Swedish authorities frown on home schooling

      Several previous weblog items have dealt with the situation in Sweden.  In this latest update, Pete Chagnon of OneNewsNow on 12/30/2009 reported that a Swedish family is faced with the prospect of losing their children simply because they home school.  The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is reporting that Swedish authorities in June boarded a plane scheduled to depart for India and removed Christer and Annie Johansson’s seven-year-old son Dominic from the custody of the Christian couple. HSLDA attorney Mike Donnelly says Swedish officials did not have a warrant and were acting in accordance to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Donnelly notes that the Swedish government does not believe that home schooling is a proper way to educate a child.  "This is one of the most disgraceful abuses of power we have ever witnessed," says the attorney. "The Swedish government is exercising its authority under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child to unnecessarily break up this family."  It is a "very dark time" in Sweden, says Donnelly.  "The Swedish Parliament is reviewing an essential ban on home schooling," he explains. "We have heard that other home-schooling families in Sweden are having more difficulty with local officials. We fear that all home-schooling families in Sweden are at risk in what could be the beginning of a widespread persecution."  Earlier this month, a Swedish court sided with the officials. HSLDA, along with attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund, will be defending the family.  Note:  Of course, we have many officials in this country who "frown on homeschooling" too.  How long will it take them to go down the same road as the Swedish officials?

Judges seek flexibility in child porn cases

     Child sexual abuse used to be unheard of. Oh, yes, I know that it happened, but it was undoubtedly rare–much rarer than it is now. However, today it is almost so common place that it seldom rates a mention in the main stream media. Therefore, I was interested in the following information from Alan Gomez of USA Today, hardly a right wing media outlet, that appeared on my computer’s home page, and feel that I have to make a comment on it. The article begins, "People convicted of possessing child pornography are getting support from an unexpected source: federal judges. In hearings across the country, defense attorneys and federal judges are asking the U.S. Sentencing Commission to allow judges greater flexibility to give lighter sentences for possession of child pornography when no other crime is involved. District Judge Jay Zainey of New Orleans, who testified last month, says he is not defending people who possess ‘filth’ but that the prison terms established by the commission are sometimes too harsh." The pro-porn defense attorneys I can understand, but the federal judges? I would like to think that the ones who suggest this are appointees by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, but I know that Republican Presidents have appointed some boneheaded federal judges too, although to be honest whenever they have nominated truly conservative judges, the Democrats in the Senate go absolutely ballistic. Judge Zainey (now that is a Dickensian name if I ever heard one) may say that "he is not defending people who possess ‘filth,’" but that is exactly what his proposal does! The article points out that for most federal crimes, the commission sets — and Congress approves — a range of suggested prison terms. Some major crimes require a mandatory minimum sentence, but most convicts are sentenced under a range of suggested prison terms called sentencing guidelines. For someone who possesses child pornography, a sentence can be harsher depending on whether the defendant used a computer and whether a large number of images were involved. Judges can order higher or lower prison terms, but if they do so drastically or often, they run the risk of a sentence being overturned on appeal. Well, what is wrong so far? People who are involved in child pornography are not fit to be out in society; they should be locked up and the key thrown away–period. The fact is that judges who order lower prison terms drastically or often should run the risk of a sentence being overturned on appeal. Others agree. Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, says judges already give sentences that are lighter than the guidelines. He says they sometimes minimize the crimes by not examining the pornography involved and are too often swayed by defendants who appear before them and do not match society’s stereotypes of people who look at child porn. "Doctors, lawyers, business executives, schoolteachers, police officers — they come out of mainstream America," Allen says. "So in a lot of situations, judges look at them and say, ‘They’re not dangerous,’ or they minimize it and say, ‘This is just kiddie porn.’ " Every person who seeks out child pornography, however "upstanding" he (or she) may seem, simply increases the market to exploit and abuse children to produce it and meet the demand. Reducing demand by locking these people up for good actually should work better than trying to go after the makers. U.S. District Judge William Sessions, chairman of the commission and chief judge of the district of Vermont, says judges have been nearly unanimous that the guidelines and the mandatory minimums restrict their ability to sentence convicts based on the specifics of each case and defendant–in other words, the judges want to be more lenient and let them off with a slap on the wrist. However, he also notes that police and prosecutors want to maintain them intact to serve as deterrents to crime, and to use possible sentence reductions as incentives to win defendants’ cooperation in investigations. Hurrah for the police and prosecutors! Maybe they, who actually have to deal with these perverts, know something that the elitist judges do not.

Good Reading

      The Sept./Oct., 2009, issue (#90) of Practical Homeschooling ( www.home-school.com ) has articles by Mary Pride about the importance of the library to homeschoolers, by Joyce McPherson on the National Bible Bee, by Jeanette Webb on Creating a school profile and transcript for college, and by the always interesting Sam Blumenfeld (83 years old) on going to school back in the Great Depression (excellent!), along with the 2009 Practical Homeschooling Reader Awards, spotlight reviews, and a tribute to the late HSLDA attorney Chris Klicka, among other useful items.

       Imprimis:  All homeschoolers ought to be acquainted with Imprimis, a monthly publication of Hillsdale College, 33 E. College St., Hillsdale, MI  49242 ( www.hillsdale.edu ).  Mailed free (occasionally, the college may ask for contributions but it has never been with high pressure), it is a journal of speeches delivered by leading conservative thinkers at Hillsdale College events.  In the Nov., 2009, issue, Victor Davis Hanson, the Wayne and Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History at Hillsdale College, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a professor of classics emeritus at California State University, gave a fascinating lecture on “The Future of Western War.”  No one likes or wants war, but it is a fact of life on this earth, and Davis points out the particular challenges that now face the West in any warfare that might erupt (such as with rogue terror states and militant Islamists).  A study of American government and Western Civilization is incomplete without the kind of thought found in the Imprimis speeches.  It would make a great resource for a homeschool “social studies” (government—world affairs—Western Civilization) curriculum for high schoolers.

And one more

     Again, the school officials reacted appropriately, but the fact that incidents like this just keep happening and happening and happening (didn’t I just say that yesterday) continue to remind us of the rabidly anti-Christian bias that has infested our society.  On December 16, 2009, WorldNetDaily reported about a third-grade New Jersey girl’s once again being allowed to read her Bible during classroom "quiet time" after her teacher ordered her to stop reading the Good Book.  The dispute developed after Michelle Jordat learned her daughter, Mariah, was told to put the Bible completely out of sight at Madison Park Elementary School in Old Bridge, N.J. "She was upset and she was hurt that she wasn’t able in her own free time to read the Bible," Jordat told New York’s WNYW-TV.  "Her teacher told her to put it away, and she put it in her desk. And then the teacher told her, ‘No, put that in your backpack. I told you to put it away.’ And it hurt her feelings and confused her. Why would my teacher say that I can’t read the Bible when I’m not bothering anybody else?"  The principal has since apologized, acknowledging a mistake on the teacher’s part, since school policy does allow children to read the Bible or any other religious book during quiet reading time.  "This was injustice," Jordat says. "No other child has to go through this again."  Although Jordat accepted the principal’s apology, she is looking for something in writing confirming that reading the Bible is permissible during personal reading time. She also indicated she’ll be seeking legal counsel.

I’m so glad that our family has nothing to do with the public school system

     In an item headlined, "School goes ballistic when 2nd-grader draws Jesus: Boy, 8, said to gets psych evaluation after sketch of Christ on cross called ‘violent’" on  December 15, 2009, Chelsea Schilling of WorldNetDaily reported that an 8-year-old boy at Lowell Maxham Elementary School in Taunton, MA, was suspended from school and forced to undergo a psychological evaluation after he drew a picture of Jesus Christ on the cross, his father claims.  His teacher allegedly said the second-grade student created a violent drawing, the Taunton Daily Gazette reported.  The boy’s picture portrayed a crucified Jesus with Xs over his eyes to indicate that he had died on the cross.  The child’s father, outraged at the school’s action, asked to remain anonymous to protect his son. He said his boy drew the picture after returning from a family trip to see the Christmas display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, a Christian retreat.  He said when the teacher asked students to draw something that reminded them of Christmas on Dec. 2, the boy recalled his trip and created a portrait of Christ on the cross.   "As far as I’m concerned, they’re violating his religion," he told the newspaper.  Associated Advocacy Center educational consultant Toni Saunders said, "I think what happened is that because he put Xs in the eyes of Jesus, the teacher was alarmed and they told the parents they thought it was violent."   Saunders said the boy has special needs, and the school reacted inappropriately.   "They made him leave school, and they recommended that a psychiatrist do an evaluation," she said.  The boy’s father told the newspaper the school required an evaluation – at the parents’ expense – before the student would be allowed to return.  However, the school district claims the boy was never suspended.   "This incident occurred nearly two weeks ago," said a statement from the district. "It was handled appropriately, and the school staff and family had been working together in a cooperative and positive manner."  [Note–that’s what they said, but that’s not what the evidence seems to indicate.]  The father said his son, who receives special reading and speech instruction, has never shown a propensity toward violence.   "He’s never been suspended," he said. "He’s 8 years old. They overreacted."   The boy returned to school on Dec. 7, but he said his son has been traumatized and will be transferred to another school in the district.   The district said its actions were not religious and nature and were based solely on the wellbeing of the student.  [Note: yes, there are always two sides to any story, but my reaction to this is, "Yeah! Right!"]  Bloggers have overwhelmingly demanded that the teacher be fired. One said, "I would like to start a petition to suspend this teacher immediately pending a full investigation into whether or not she should be terminated. Some parents try very hard to instill the values of religion in their children, and for this teacher to tell this student he did something wrong is disgusting. If my kids were in her class, I would pull them out and demand a new teacher or a change of schools."  I would just choose to homeschool.  I realize that this may be an extreme reaction, but things like this just keep happening and happening and happening and show a decidedly anti-religious bias that seems to permeate the public school culture.  I saw a later item in which the school claims that its decision was not the result of the picture of Jesus on the cross, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions that abound about this incident.

      Florida College, 119 N. Glen Arven Ave., Temple Terrace, FL, just outside of Tampa, is a private, non-sectarian institution of higher education that is founded on Biblical principles.  I attended there when it was only a junior college with an additional four-year certificate.  It is now a bachelor-degree granting institution, although it still offers an associate degree for those who want it.  Though it sits in the shadow of enormous government-run state universities, large community colleges, and well-known private institutions, its small campus and enrollment hovering around 500 draw little attention to the school which largely escapes the notice of newspapers and local politicians.  Students, whether they study art, literature, politics, world events, the sciences, or whatever, are presented with a worldview that is grounded in the timeless truth of God’s creation and God’s word.  The school stands against the moral turbulence and tidal extremes of our relentlessly changing world, unapologetically holding to the fundamental principles of God’s sovereignty and the unchanging truth of His word.  Unfortunately, in today’s world, this has consequences.  Two of their largest matching gift corporate donors, IBM and GE (now remember, these are not outright grants to the college, but only promised gifts matching those from people who work for these companies and contribute to Florida College), recently withdrew their support of Florida College.  GE wrote, “Our records indicate that your organization was rejected due to the following discriminatory information found on your website: ‘Homosexuality is not acceptable.’”  IBM said, “Your organization must not advocate, support, or practice activities inconsistent with IBM’s non-discrimination policies…based on…gender identity or expression, sexual orientation.”  They want diversity, UNLESS it is diverse from their promotion of homosexuality.  They promote tolerance, EXCEPT they will not tolerate those who differ with them on the subject of sexual orientation.  The college replies, “The loss of revenue from these two companies alone amounts to thousands of dollars every year that the school will never see again….Our dedication to God’s standard of moral conduct will not prove popular with companies whose principles are morally relative and politically motivated.  We don’t need—we don’t want—the support of the IBMs and GEs of this world who make financial donations contingent on moral compromise.”  AMEN!!!!!  It is amazing how INTOLERANT those who claim that our society needs more tolerance can really be.

Virginia school cancels Taliban debate

     I realize that students need to learn critical thinking and that it is always good to look at all sides of a question, but this seems a bit much for middle school.  A middle school principal in Virginia has called off an assignment that asked some students to represent the views of the Taliban in a mock United Nations debate.  Eighth graders at Swanson Middle School in Arlington had been asked to research nine conflicts around the world, including Afghanistan, and debate solutions. Some students would have presented the Taliban’s views.  But Principal Chrystal Forrester dropped Afghanistan from the list Monday, according to The Washington Post. She says she didn’t want controversy to undermine a lesson about building persuasive arguments and supporting them with research.  Parent Chris Wilson, whose daughter was one of those asked to represent the Taliban, says he found it morally questionable to ask students to echo the extremist Islamic group.