Pioneer Schoolhouse, Rockport Lincoln Pioneer Village and Museum, Rockport, IN

Front View

     Rockport Lincoln Pioneer Village and Museum was designed by George Honig, artist and sculptor, under the direction of the Spencer County Historical Society and the Rockport City Park Board and constructed in Rockport City Park from 1935 to 1937 with funds from the Works Project Administration.  It is a memorial to Abraham Lincoln’s fourteen formative years spent in Spencer County and consists of structures and artifacts which represent the life and times of Lincoln and his pioneer neighbors and friends.  In a building quite similar to this one, with dirt floor and puncheon benches, young Lincoln attended school in Spencer County. The Pioneer Schoolhouse was rebuilt in 1990.

Elena Kagan seems to be anti-homeschooling rights

     Recent posts on this blog have expressed opposition to the confirmation of Elena Kagan who has been nominated by Barak Obama to be United States Supreme Court Justice.  Here’s more reason why she should never sit on the U. S. Supreme Court:

Full Senate to Vote on Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan
William A. Estrada, Esq.
Director of Federal Relations, Home School Legal Defense Association

July 26, 2010

     On Tuesday, July 20, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send Elena Kagan’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court to the full Senate for approval. The committee vote was 13–6. It is expected that the full Senate will vote on Ms. Kagan’s nomination sometime this week or next week.

     HSLDA has previously voiced our concerns about Ms. Kagan’s nomination due to her support of international law. These concerns grew after Senator Chuck Grassley (IA) asked her pointed questions about her reliance on international law.

     We have now found out additional information that may reflect Ms. Kagan’s views on homeschooling. In the 1980s, Ms. Kagan—fresh out of law school—clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. At that time, HSLDA was battling in state courts for homeschool freedom. One particular case we handled in Ohio was State v. Schmidt, 505 N.E.2d. 627 (1987). In that case, a homeschool family was convicted of failing to send their child to school, and the conviction was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court. HSLDA petitioned for a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it was denied.

     Ms. Kagan reviewed the case for Supreme Court Justice Marshall. You can view a copy of her memo below. She recommended against the Supreme Court taking this case, saying:

     [The Schmidts] are self-described born-again Christians who adhere to a literal interpretation of the Bible and have little sympathy with the secular world. When their child reached school-age, they decided to educate her at home. They did not seek the permission of the school superintendent; they simply did not enroll her in school.

     Ms. Kagan went on to imply that the family’s expression of religion had not been infringed upon by the school district because the family was not being compelled to attend public school. She said that asking permission to homeschool was reasonable. The Schmidt family objected to asking for permission to homeschool because of their religious beliefs.

     During Ms. Kagan’s confirmation hearings, Senator Jeff Sessions asked Ms. Kagan what she meant in her memo. Kagan didn’t back away from her memo. Read the full text of Senator Sessions’ questions and her answers online: . Question 17 deals with the Schmidt case.

     The full Senate will vote on Ms. Kagan’s nomination sometime before the August recess. We encourage you to call your two U.S. senators and share with their staff your thoughts about Ms. Kagan’s confirmation.

     You can reach your two U.S. senators by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or toll-free at 866-220-0044. You can find your U.S. senators by using HSLDA’s Legislative Toolbox.

    Read Elena Kagan’s law clerk notes concerning Schmidt v. Ohio (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader): .

     [Note:  As I have previously noted, I have already contacted my two senators, Democrats Trickie Dickie Durban and “Rollin with Blago” Burris, many, many times on this issue, and they continually assure me that they are fully supportive of Kagan’s nomination and confirmation.  Surprise, surprise, surprise!  Leftist birds of a feather always stick together!]

yet another (sad) reason for Christians to homeschool

     In an item headlined, “Legislating immorality in schools,” Bill Bumpas and Jody Brown of  OneNewsNow reported the following on 7/21/2010.

     An author and mother of five is alarmed at the recent news of school districts in Massachusetts and Montana that in her opinion are encouraging the sexuality of young children.
     From condoms for young children in Provincetown to sex education for kindergartners in Helena, Katie Reid — author of When the Bough Breaks — believes the intent of such actions is to provide children a means to engage in sexual relations with fewer possible side effects. But as Reid points out, there are more consequences to sex than just pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
     “When you as a child engage in sex, you have no ability to really understand the depth of the gravity of the situation that you’re dealing in or what it means to lose your innocence or how vulnerable having sex can make you,” says the author. “And there seems to be a complete disregard for the emotional and social consequences of sex — especially on girls.”
     One of those consequences, says Reid, is boyfriend abuse.
     “That’s one of the first things that a boyfriend who’s likely going to abuse [his girlfriend] will do,” she explains. “…He will get the girl to become sexually active even if she doesn’t want to, even if she protests — and he will create that huge intimacy so that she feels she has no choice but to do anything that he says.
     “I really just don’t see how a condom is going to protect any girl from that.”
     The author is also concerned that school officials believe they have the right and authority to trump the rights and interests of parents in raising their own child. For example, the reasoning of the Provincetown School Committee for their decision? “Children alone decide when they become sexually active, and we can’t control that, but we can ensure that when they’re making those decisions, there are caring adults and support present.”
     To that argument, Reid states in a recent column for Human Events: “Instead of handing our children over to the foolishness of youth with a state-funded piece of rubber as their only guardian, maybe we could take back the authority from the school boards who were never given such power in the first place.”
     She also writes that after decades of debate about whether morality can be legislated, Provincetown School Committee “took it upon itself to legislate immorality.”

more good reading

     The Vol. 19, No. 3 (2010) issue of Home School Digest ( ) has several articles, not all of the related directly to homeschooling but some to parenting and family life (it is “The Quarterly Journal for Family Discipleship”).  Some of the ones that caught my attention are “Don’t Think You Can’t Be Deceived” by Connie Giordano, “My Parent’s Table” by homeschool graduate Elysse Barrett, “The Contrast of Pride and Humility” by homeschool graduate Emilie Cianciola (“What worth are all of our fine test scores if we are full of blinding pride…?”), “My Son, Give Me Your Heart” by Kevin Swanson, “Abandon Ship!  Run from the Public Schools” by David d’Escoto, “Good Parenting Starts with Jesus” by J. Mark Fox, “Eva’s Treasure: A Family Read-Aloud” by Chad Patterson, “Who Is Salting Whom?” by Steve and Carol Ryerson, “Homeschooling in Japan” by marketing director Israel Wayne, and “Courage to Allow Our Children to Grow” by Terry Dodds, among others.  There is always something interesting to chew over in Home School Digest.

Champaign-Urbana, IL

     The twin cities of Champaign and Urbana, IL, are home to the University of Illinois and Parkland College.  There are several interesting things in the area to see.  We decided to go there to visit the Staerkel Planetarium (2400 W. Bradley Ave. in Champaign; ) on the Parkland College campus.  The planetarium is open year round on Friday and Saturday evenings.  It is the second largest planetarium in Illinois.  One of the most popular programs, “Prairie Skies,” delivers a live tour of the wonders of the night sky, accompanied by some of the legendary stories of the ancient sky.  Unfortunately, the planetarium was closed for this summer (2010), but there were some other things in the area that we wanted to see.

     The Orpheum Children’s Science Museum (346 N. Neil St., Champaign; or ) is housed in the 1914 Orpheum Theater.  It features more than twenty interactive science exhibits.  I will have to admit that having visited other children’s science museums, there is more “children’s” than “science” in this one.  The animals—turtles, bearded dragon lizards, snakes, a huge tarantula, and an aquarium of Madagascar hissing cockroaches—are few but interesting, and our son Jeremy liked the display of Star Wars paraphernalia made out of Legos (including a life sized Darth Maul head), but basically it doesn’t have much that would hold the attention of a child over seven.  The outside courtyard has a Dino Dig area, and I noticed that the ages given on the dinosaur pictures include millions and millions of years, as is typical of public science museums.

     The Champaign Prairie Farm (2202 W. Kirby Ave., Champaign; ) is located in Centennial Park.  This was not what we expected.  There are traditional farm animals, such as sheep, goats, pigs, horses, cows, chickens, turkeys, and peafowl, along with a duck pond.  The Central Illinois Travel Host magazine said, “A replica of a turn-of-the-century farm complete with barns, farmhouse, pond, pasture, and flower garden.”  However, there is nothing historical here, and everything seems geared again toward small children—which is all right, but there is not much here for older children.

     The Spurlock Museum (600 S. Gregory, Urbana;  or ) is a different matter.  Though this free museum is small, it is much on the order of the Oriental Institute in Chicago.  There are separate displays devoted to American Indian cultures, Ancient Mediterranean cultures (Greek and Roman), Asian cultures, European cultures (mostly medieval), African cultures, and Middle Eastern cultures.  The purpose is to explore the lives of people from six continents through the exploration of their food, clothing, shelter, communications, technology, conflict, art, religion, and ethics.  There are suits of armor, a life sized tipi, and the 2,000 year old mummy of a Egyptian child.  There are no hand-on exhibits, but you can do a scavenger hunt.  My only complaints are the anatomically correct nude male statues and the politically correct “B.C.E.” and “C.E.” dates.

     The University of Illinois Arboretum and Japan House(1700/2000 S. Lincoln Ave. and Florida Ave., Urbana; and ) is a living laboratory, including plant collections and facilities that support the teaching, research, and public service programs of several units of the University.  The different gardens include All American Selection Trial Gardens, the Welcome Gardens, he Idea Garden, and the Japanese Tea and Dry Gardens.  The Japan House offers the public an opportunity to learn about traditional Japanese culture through tours, tea ceremonies, and other special events.  We did not get out and walk through the Arboretum because we did not have the time, but we did drive around it.

     Allerton Park (515 Old Timber Rd., Monticello; ) is the former estate of Robert Allerton, who made his fortune in the late 1800s through farming, banking, and the Chicago stockyards.  After building an English style manor house in 1900, he traveled the world buying outdoor sculptures for his gardens and woods, including “The Centaur” by Paris sculptor Bourdelle, and “The Sun Singer” by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles.  The century old manor house is not open to the public, but one can drive around the woods or walk the trails and see the sculptures and gardens.  

      Since we could stay only parts of two days, there were several other things that we did not get to see—but we are close enough to go back and catch them later.  They include:

     Champaign County Courthouse, 101 E. Main, Urbana (changing exhibits)

     Champaign County Historical Museum at the Cattle Bank, 102 E. University Ave., Champaign

     Early American Museum, IL Hwy. 47 N., Mahomet

     John Philip Sousa Library and Museum, 1103 S. 6th St., Champaign

     Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Dr., Champaign

     Chanute Air Museum, 1101 Pacesetter Dr., Rantoul

     Parkland Art Gallery, 2400 W. Bradley Ave., Champaign

     Anita Purves Nature Center, 1505 N. Broadway, Urbana

     Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch, 1356 CR 2900 N, Rantoul

     Mabery Gelvin Botanical Garden, IL Hwy. 47 N., Mahomet

     Wandell Sculpture Garden in Meadowbrook Park, Windsor Rd. and Race St., Urbana

Good Reading

   Home Educator’s Family Times:  The May/June, 2020, issue of this bimonthly homeschooling newspaper ( ) has an excerpt entitled “Obedience Training vs. ‘Invited Learning’” from the book The Lifetime Learning Companion by Jean and Donn Read (you may not agree with all of their conclusions, but they make some interesting points); articles by Barb Frank, Alison McKee, Shirley M. R. Minster, John Whitehead, and Todd Wilson; and a book review by me.  Editor Jane Boswell had written to ask me if she could use some of my book reviews in future editions.

     Practical Homeschooling: The July/August, 2010, issue of this homeschooling magazine ( ) now published five times a year, has an interesting editorial by publisher Mary Pride about the new assault on “best friends,” as well as her article “College or Not?  31 Things You Need to Know;” columns and articles for fathers by Don Aslett and on socialization by Marilyn Molewyk, among others; and a new “Final Word” writer, our good friend from St. Charles, MO, Rhonda Barfield, author of Real-Life Homeschooling.

    Christian Book Distributors:  Also, for those who are starting to plan for this fall’s homeschool curricula (I just went  this past week to our storage facility and dug out the box of ninth grade materials that our older son, now graduated, had used to begin preparation for our younger son’s freshman high school year), the CBD Summer/Fall, 2010, Homeschool Sale catalogue (with free shipping if you order $35 or more) arrived recently, with materials for, well, just about everything you might need ( ).

Another atheist accepts God!

     Does atheism really present anything valuable for those who adhere to it?  Of course, most people are aware of C. S. Lewis’s conversion from atheism to Christianity.  It’s interesting that one son of late atheist Madelyn Murry O’Hare became a minister.  It’s also interesting that former atheist Anthony Flew now embraces intelligent design.   And in an article entitled “Rage against God” on 7/13/2010, Marcia Segelstein, OneNewsNow columnist, reported on the brother of Christopher Hitchins.

     “The Rage against God is loose and is preparing to strip the remaining altars when it is strong enough.”  – from The Rage Against God by Peter Hitchens
     Peter Hitchens is famously known as the brother of the infamously outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens.  For a time, both brothers held a common disbelief in God.  In his new book, Peter describes his falling away from faith that mirrored that of so many in his generation, including his brother.  Now back in the fold of Christianity, he sees with frightening clarity the ills that have been loosed on society as a result of its ever-increasing secularization.

     Some of what Hitchens describes is specifically about the England in which he grew up, and the diminished England in which he now lives.  But much of it applies just as well to America and most of western civilization.
     Of his turning away from the faith of his childhood Hitchens writes:  “We were sure that we, and our civilization, had grown out of the nursery myths of God, angels, and heaven.  We had modern medicine, jet engines, the welfare state, the United Nations, and ‘science,’ which explained everything that needed to be explained.”  Growing up for him, and for so many of his generation, meant no longer falling for those “myths.”
     There was also the stumbling block of submission, a generalized dislike of authority that was almost endemic to the times.  And while Hitchens blames no one but himself for his actions, he does wonder aloud about the effects of growing up in a post-war world.  He writes, “Perhaps it was because they brought us up too kindly, convinced in the post-war age that we should not endure the privation, danger, and strict discipline that they had had to put up with, so we turned arrogant.  I certainly did.”
     Educated society in Britain began to look down its collective nose at the faithful, just as what Dan Quayle dubbed the cultural elite began to mock traditional values in America.  Hitchens quotes Virginia Woolf’s reaction to T.S. Eliot’s conversion to Christianity:  “I have had a most shameful and distressing interview with poor dear Tom Eliot, who may be called dead to us all from this day forward…I mean, there’s something obscene in a living person sitting by the fire and believing in God.”
     Hitchens wonders aloud whether the real emotion behind those passionately intense words was fear that believers like T.S. Eliot might be right.  The same could no doubt be wondered about the heated virulence of many outspoken atheists, like his brother.
     Hitchens lived in the former Soviet Union for several years, and spent time as a journalist in other places devoid of religion.  In retrospect at least, he’d begun to sense a direct correlation between the absence of faith and the absence of basic human civility.  He’d also begun to see clear evidence of what he calls “the fallen nature of man, and his inability to achieve perfection,” in places where “man set himself up to replace God with the state.”
     Having experienced it himself, Hitchens is perhaps especially apprehensive about Western civilization’s drift toward enforced secularization.  He believes the dissolution of Christian education is a real possibility.  He fears that an “intolerant utopianism” will drive out the remaining traces of Christianity from the public squares of Europe and North America.  And he worries about “an ever more powerful state” raging against God.
     The concerns he voices are frightening to contemplate, but sadly imaginable as Christianity is driven from public life and religion is all too often a source of derision.  But perhaps there’s hope to be gleaned from his personal story of belief re-born.  He returned to a faith which wouldn’t hold his years of doubt and unbelief against him.  We can hope and pray the same for the world.