Latest Blog Posts

How should one refer to children? As “resources”? Or as “humans,” who are distinct from both diamonds and siamangs?

In one of my recent articles,[1] I referred to a piece by academics Acker, Gray, Jalali, and Pascal in which they acted as if U.S. case law were God.[2] Another issue arises in their article that is commonly found in writings, both academic and lay. The basic thesis is that children and young adults, pre-school through college, are resources to be measured, analyzed, tended, and managed by the government and State-run school systems.

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“But how will they do in the ‘real world’?”

“If he is tied to mommy’s apron strings until he’s 18, he won’t know how to get along with others.”

“If she never has to deal with the ‘Other,’ she’ll never be decent, civil, and respectful.” [note 1]

Experienced homeschool parents and home-educated students hear such claims, over and over. Negative critics of homeschooling have been averring such things for about 30 years now. But what does research say about the long-term outcomes of homeschooling?

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Four academics are incredibly worried about many homeschoolers. Acker, Gray, Jalali, and Pascal write the following:

In the case of inferior education for girls, such enunciated [Christian] fundamentalist beliefs as “sexual equality denies God’s word” and failure of a wife to accept a subordinate, obedient role in the home means “the doors are wide open to Satan” may well exclude girls from the level of mathematics known to be a critical filter for many careers and confine them to low-paying, servile occupations if employed outside the home … [p. 519, note 1]

These four academics try to paint a picture of a slow and inexorable progression from parental authority over the education of children to total state authority. They are looking at colonial days in America to about 50 years ago. Despite the fact the authors beg the politically sensitive question, Who cares about this imperialistic and Eurocentric interpretation of the education of children and why do the authors ignore the culture of Native Americans?, they quickly try to move the reader to accept three basic premises and one proposed conclusion.

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We’ve found a website that gives homeschoolers a free item each day. The featured item at this time is the Big Handbook of Nature Study, available for free and immediate download. You can obtain this and many other resources by visiting http://www.homeschoolfreebie.wholesomechildhood.com/

by Bohemian Travelers.com

Since we decided to homeschool and eventually unschool our boys, I get asked a lot of questions. It’s understandable, as the lifestyle we have chosen definitely goes against the grain of societal norms. Even I had a lot of trepidation and found myself asking some of the very same questions.

It took me over five years to fully settle in the ideas and, truth be told, I still question myself at least once a year. Over the eight years plus since we started to homeschool, my perspective through research and experience has grown considerably. This perspective has allowed me to address the most commonly asked questions: What about college? How do they socialize and learn to work with others? How do you know they are “on par” with others? When do you get any free time as a parent? How will they be prepared for the real world?

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Interview with Creation Scientist Dr. Jonathan Sarfati


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This past Monday, March 26, 2012, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati spoke in Winston-Salem, NC on the topic “Design, Deluge & Dilemma.”

Dr. Jonathan Sarfati is a former New Zealand national chess champion and creationist author with a PhD in chemistry. He works full-time for Creation Ministries International in Atlanta, GA. You can read a more complete bio at the Creation.com website. Some of the excellent Creation resources from Creation Ministries International that Dr. Sarfati has penned include Refuting Evolution, which now has over 400,000 copies in print, Refuting Compromise, and is the co-author of the popular Creation Answers Book.

Additionally, Dr. Sarfati serves as co-editor of the beautiful Creation magazine and also writes and reviews articles for the Journal of Creation.

These all make wonderful resources for homeschoolers seeking to teach science from a Christian worldview.

We had an opportunity to interview Dr. Sarfati before his lecture to ask him some questions pertinent to homeschoolers. Enjoy the podcast!

by William Grigg, Republic Magazine
Original article link: http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=38473

Politically progressive parents who withdraw their children from government schools are ideological hypocrites who undermine the common good, insists Dana Goldstein, a Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation.

In recent years, “there has been a resurgence of interest in homeschooling — not just the religious fundamentalist variety practiced by Michele Bachman and Rick Santorum, but also in secular, liberal homeschooling,” writes Goldstein in an essay for Slate.

Although a definitive tally of the number of home-schooled children is elusive, the best estimate places the “un-schooled” population somewhere in the vicinity of two millions, “and the number is growing. It is unclear home many homeschooling families are secular, but the political scientist Rob Reich has written that there is little doubt that the homeschooling population has diversified in recent years.”

As someone who adheres to the cult of the State as a quasi-divine entity that is the source of all good things, Goldstein is troubled that the individualist heresy has taken root among self-described progressives. Homeschooling “is rooted in distrust of the public sphere, in class privilege, and in the dated presumption that children hail from two-parent families, in which one parent can afford (and wants) to take significant time away from paid work in order to manage a process — education — that most parents entrust to the community-at-large,” she writes with a palpable sense of disgust.

For the devout collectivist, the question is not whether homeschooling “best serve[s] the interests not just of those who are doing it, but of society as a whole,” according to Goldstein. Furthermore, it’s entirely inappropriate to “encourage children to trust only their parents or those hand-selected by them, and to mistrust civic life and public institutions… Nor can we allow homeschoolers to believe their choice impacts only their own offspring.” Removing intellectually capable children from the government school environment undermines the “peer effects” created in the classroom setting, thereby supposedly making it “harder for less-advantaged children to thrive.”

For all of these reasons, Goldstein writes in a scolding tone, “Lefty homeschoolers might be preaching sound social values to their children, but they aren’t practicing them.”

For centuries, wrote the late social commentator Christopher Lasch (who in his youth was a Marxist) in his book The True and Only Heaven, social engineers have “sought to remove children from the influence of their families … and to place them under the benign influence of state and school.” This is true not only of Dana Goldstein’s ideological ancestors among 19th and early 20th century American progressives, but among her ideological kindred in the Soviet Union.

In his 1937 work A Book for Parents, Soviet sociologist A.S. Makarenko–at the time a personal favorite of Josef Stalin–wrote that the Soviet family “is not a closed-in, collective body, like the bourgeois family. It is an organic part of Soviet society….” While “parents are not without authority” in the Soviet system, “this authority is only the reflection of social authority,” insisted Makarenko.

Not surprisingly, given his role as a functionary in a state apparatus devoted to the extirpation of religious belief, Makarenko explicitly repudiated the biblical foundations of parental authority, stating that in the pre-socialist world “parental authority issued from the Lord’s commandment. In our modern family things are different.” He denounced the pre-socialist father as an “odious figure”–”Master, overseer, teacher, judge and sometimes executioner,” “despotic,” a monarch who exploited his children. He taught that the State–the institutional arrangement that made it possible for Stalin to annihilate slaughtered tens of millions–must forbid parental physical punishment and “maternal indulgence.” This wasn’t because Makarenko had moral objections to corporal punishment, but rather because allowing such displays of limited punitive authority would undermine the State’s monopoly on force.

The family’s purpose in the Soviet system was to raise the State’s children according to the State’s dictates. “Morality requires general emulation of the most perfect conduct,” wrote Makarenko. “Our morality must already be the morality of communist society…. In our country he alone is a man of worth whose needs and desires are the needs and desires of a collectivist. Our family offers rich soil for the cultivation of such collectivism.”

Thirty years after publication of Makarenko’s book in the Soviet Union, it was published in the United States under the title The Collective Family: A Handbook for Russian Parents. The introduction in the English-language edition was written by Russian expatriate Urie Bronfenbrenner, who at the time (1967) was a member of the Planning Committee for the Head Start program. According to Bronfenbrenner, the wisdom offered in Makarenko’s Soviet handbook should help shape American social policy:
The Collective Family … has something to say to the Western world…. Soviet leaders and educators have emphasized that effective character training requires imposing on the child challenging responsibilities for service and self-discipline not only within the family but, equally importantly, in his collective or peer group both within and outside the school.
The vision that enchanted Bronfenbrenner, and inspired generations of American educators, bureaucrats, and social engineers, was laid out with remarkable clarity at a Communist Party Congress held shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution. In that gathering (as recounted in the 1986 book Utopia in Power: A History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Present, by Russian expatriate scholars Mikhail Heller and Aleksandr Nekrich), Soviet educators were told: “We must remove the children from the crude influence of their families. We must take them over and, to speak frankly, nationalize them. From the first days of their lives they will be under the healthy influence of Communist children’s nurseries and schools. There they will grow up to be real Communists.”

The America social welfare revolution of the past five decades has followed precisely the same course. Home school families constitute a counter-revolution — and, increasingly, their ranks include disillusioned “Lefty” parents who commendably place a higher value on the practical education of their own children than the theoretical best interests of the “community-at-large.”

Federal government building

A common mantra amongst advocates of public schooling is the need for government control over the education of children in all schooling settings. The same mantra emanates from many scholars who claim no bias for or against State-run schooling, or for or against free home-based education. Yet, where, if anywhere, is evidence on which advocates of government control base their call for State control?
 
One should consider just two compelling areas of research information that undermine the call for State control of children’s education. One is addressed in Dr. Charles Murray’s recently penned piece entitled “Do We Need the Department of Education?” [note 1] Based on three criteria, his is a pithy and logically sound answer to his article’s question. The first question he asks is, “Is the Department of Education constitutional?” In a nutshell, no. Dr. Murray writes:

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution enumerates the things over which Congress has the power to legislate. Not only does the list not include education, there is no plausible rationale for squeezing education in under the commerce clause. I’m sure the Supreme Court found a rationale, but it cannot have been plausible.

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Researchers keep trying to find ways to control the variables. They want to know: Controlling for this variable and that, do the home educated do worse, the same, or better academically than students in institutional schooling?

Dr. Dale Clemente added her piece to the puzzle while studying students in college.The purpose of her study was to determine whether there was a difference in academic achievement and college aptitude of home-educated high school seniors attending Christian colleges and universities, when compared to their conventionally schooled counterparts. [note 1] Her measure of achievement and aptitude was the SAT (formerly called the Scholastic Aptitude Test).

The fact that all the students in the researcher’s study – whether homeschooled, public schooled, or private institutional schooled – were attending Christian colleges guaranteed, in a sense, that they were more like one another than if she had drawn them from state (public) universities. When a researcher cannot randomly assign people (e.g., K-12 students) to “treatments” – such as homeschooling, public schooling, and private schooling – she needs to find ways to make them similar on various traits (e.g., family income, religious beliefs, parental education level) if meaningful contrasts are going to be made regarding a key variable like type of schooling. Sampling from Christian colleges and universities likely meant Dr. Clemente was comparing apples to apples, and not to oranges.

The researcher analyzed the SAT scores of 1,792 public, 945 private, and 222 homeschooled college student (N = 2,959). These were comprised of 1,441 males and 1,518 females, yielding a total of 2959 test scores.

Statistical analyses revealed that the mean rank of homeschooled students was higher than their public-schooled or private-schooled counterparts. Although the private-schooled students placed second of the three groups, the difference between public-schooled and private-schooled students was not statistically significant.

To read more about Dr. Clemente’s conclusions and the ramifications of this research, please visit NHERI at http://archive.aweber.com/nheri2010-1/FTLpQ/h/Homeschooled_With_Higher_SAT.htm

Don’t forget to listen to our podcast with professional homeschool researcher Dr. Brian Ray!

http://www.thehomeschoolshow.net/2011/08/13/podcast-home-schooling-across-america-nheri/

Nationally Standardized Homeschool Achievement Testing Providers

It’s 2012 and Homeschool Achievement Testing is in full swing. For your convenience, we have put together an updated and expanded Master Comparison Chart that lists all the nationally standardized achievement test providers and their contact info. The tests are color-coded and the PDF also includes hyperlinks.

In the column that reads “Test Provider”, click on the name of the Test Provider to go directly to the home page of their company website.

In the column that reads “Website”, click on the bit.ly link to go directly to the page that contains the information and ordering page for that particular test, be it CAT5 or WJIII or any other nationally standardized achievement test for homeschoolers.

We hope you enjoy and profit from the chart (i.e. SAVE money! :) ). Let us know if there are any changes that need to be made or if one of the links doesn’t work.

Homeschool Achievement Test Providers Master Comparison Chart