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Common Core Spurs Increase in Homeschooling in North Carolina

Excellent report from Chris Neal, writing for Heartland.

Common Core has become a major concern for some parents in North Carolina, a state where homeschooling grew by 14 percent during the last academic year. More children are now getting an education at home than in the state’s private schools.

“More and more private traditional schools are choosing to align to the Standards,” said Lynne Taylor, a North Carolina parent who has homeschooled her kids for more than a decade. Taylor says unhappiness with the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) is the primary reason for the recent spike in homeschooling.

Taylor, who began activism against Common Core in 2009, says even homeschool parents have to exercise caution about the standards. “I have met people almost on a daily basis who are escaping Common Core Standards via home education because the traditional system is failing their families. My main concern is that they receive the proper guidance in remaining Common Core Standard-free. In North Carolina, Common Core is not only available to home education; it is, most times, hidden in plain sight. If you’re not careful, the system you seek to escape can meet you all over again.”

Standards Called Illegal, Impractical

Taylor disputes both the legality and the practicality of the curriculum she seeks to escape. “Our 10th Amendment and at least three federal education laws are broken” by it, she said. “No legislative votes were cast to give us vetted, tested, educator-created standards. Little to no allowances are made for young, developing minds at their pace, those with special needs, or the gifted.”

Taylor cites the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act, which states, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize an officer or employee of the Federal Government to mandate, direct, or control a State, local educational agency, or school’s curriculum, program of instruction, or allocation of State and local resources.” In addition, she notes, the General Education Provisions Act and the Department of Education Organization Act both limit federal control over school curricula.

Taylor and other Common Core critics argue many states were baited into adopting the Standards in hopes of obtaining the Department of Education’s Race to the Top grant money.

Variety of Reasons

Parent Spencer Mason, who homeschooled his four children in North Carolina, says there are a variety of reasons why home education’s popularity has increased in his state. “I think the steady growth of homeschools in North Carolina is due to three main factors,” Mason said. “One, the favorable North Carolina homeschool law and the good support system. Two, more and more families are seeing the results of home education and desiring the same results for their children. And three, dissatisfaction with the public school system. I think the recent spike in the number of homeschools is partially the result of parents learning about how the Common Core State Standards will affect their children.”

Mason says the economy could be another factor. “I think the economic downturn in 2009 has led to the decline in the number of private school students in general, and has made homeschooling attractive to more families,” he said.

The substantial surge in homeschooling over the past few years may have led to the North Carolina state legislature’s recent decision to replace Common Core State Standards with new ones. Pat McCrory signed Senate Bill 812 in July, effectively repealing Common Core in the state with the stated intention of implementing new standards designed specifically for North Carolinians.

The question now is how closely the North Carolina Higher Academic Standards will resemble Common Core. The current plan is said to resemble an earlier Senate proposal that retained some aspects of the standards.

Committee in Control

Exactly what the new standards entail will depend largely on the committee members appointed by State Board of Education to review and approve them, and the recently selected members are likely to bring diverse perspectives. McCrory made one appointment himself, selecting IBM executive Andre Peek for his business knowledge. Soon after his appointment, Peek reportedly told NC Policy Watch he has always supported Common Core.

Other appointees include John T. Scheick, a retired math professor from Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill, who was recommended to Republican Sen. Phil Berger as a Common Core skeptic, and former assistant principal Laurie McCollum, also appointed by Berger, who said she would have slowly phased in the Common Core standards.

Kevin McClain, president of North Carolinians for Home Education, says he would prefer the legislature simply stay out of it. “I think curricular and assessment decisions are the purview of instructors and parents, and legislative activity concerning curriculum and assessment are an ultimately unproductive act of statecraft and a poor strategy for a truly public education system,” he said.

McClain did not express much optimism regarding increases in home education possibly becoming a trend in other states battling over Common Core. “I certainly hope so,” McClain said. “However, every state has different laws governing homeschooling, and some states erect unjust barriers for parents to exercise their liberty to educate their children. North Carolinians are fortunate to live in a state that recognizes parents’ authority in decisions regarding the education of their child.”

School has hissy fit over Creation invitation

As reported by Bob Unruh for World News Daily:

A California district is accused of lashing out at a student for inviting a classmate to an event outside of school.

Infuriated school officials summoned the student to the principal’s office four times in one day to write out a “confession.” They then vowed to censor her invitations to friends in the future.

The non-school event was a free seminar offered by an organization called Genesis Apologetics, which offers scientifically grounded responses to teachings about evolution.

The student, identified as “Esther” by the Pacific Justice Institute, which is pursuing the case on her behalf, actually invited two of her friends to the event. The theme of evolution had come up regularly in a class, which uses a textbook titled “Early Civilizations.”

The conversation among many students in Esther’s class turned to an examination of creationist and biological evolutionary theories of origins, the law firm said in its complaint against Loomis Union School District in Loomis, California.

“Currently the class is discussing plate tectonics and the Big Bang theory,” the complaint continues. “[Esther] sought out more information to be able to express her beliefs and understanding on the issue to participate in the ongoing conversation.”

She learned of the three-session seminar, and after attending the first session invited one friend to the second. The two then invited a third friend to the final session.

The invitations were delivered during lunch breaks, and Esther provided a flyer so that the friends could check with their parents.

It apparently was a parent of one of the invited students who called school officials to complain that the invitation was made to an event outside of school.

School officials did not respond to a WND request for comment.

The lawsuit names Supt. Gordon Medd, School Director Erica Sloane, acting Director Katie Messerli and others as defendants. The complaint says Sloane erupted in anger and ordered the student to write a “confession,” declaring all such statements in the future will require the school’s stamp of approval.

According to the legal complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Sloane “proceeded to scold [the student] for bringing the … flyer to school because the content is religious and because it had not been approved by the school district.”

“Sloane told [the student] that she was not permitted to distribute the flyer to students … and her actions were unacceptable.”

Sloane also “expressed her anger, through an intimidating tone and expressions, at [the student] over the situation … and further directed [the student] to not talk about religion at school, even during lunch.”

In her second summons to the school office that day, the student was ordered to write an incident report to confess what she had done.

Fifteen minutes later, Sloane found the confession “inadequate,” so the student was summoned again. As Sloane was still unsatisfied, the student was summoned a fourth time.

But the Loomis Basin Charter School’s mission statement, the complaint points out, says its aim “is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, patriotic, honorable, responsible and caring young people who have the background, skills, knowledge and qualities necessary to participate successfully and actively in a changing and increasingly interrelated world.”

It also says students will need to “think independently and connect content to real life.”

The student “has been disturbed by these events and felt harassed, traumatized, and unsafe to the point that she did not want to return to school in the days that followed because of the scolding and harsh interactions.”

When her mother got involved, officials explained to her the student was not allowed to distribute any flyer to students, even friends, inside or outside of class.

The schools position, the complaint says, is that a pupil “cannot personally give printed material to another pupil without first obtaining a district disclaimer affixed to the literature.”

The complaint alleges a violation of state and federal constitutional free speech rights.

The student, it says, “has a speech right to possess on her person and distribute a flyer expressing a religious viewpoint.”

“The scolding and intimidation by Sloane as against [the student] to cease and desist from distributing said flyer, cease and desist from keeping a similar flyer on her person or in her backpack, and to just say no to anyone who may provide her with a flyer to share with her fellow classmates, or face additional administrative action are a form of censorship which is inconsistent with the rights guaranteed to [the student] as a citizen.”

Oklahoma school district cancels Hobby Lobby-backed religious course after activist pressure

As reported by Arturo Garcia, writing for Raw Story:

An Oklahoma school district scuttled plans to offer an elective religion course developed by the head of the Hobby Lobby retail chain. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) said on its website on Tuesday that the Mustang Public Schools district canceled the course, “The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact.”

“The topic of a Bible course in the Mustang School District is no longer a discussion item nor is there a plan to provide such a course in the foreseeable future,” superintendent Sean McDaniel was quoted as saying.

The district’s decision came after the foundation made a second open-records request in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United.

Hobby Lobby allegedly did not provide the district with “legal coverage” for offering the course, nor did it allow the district to review the final curriculum beforehand.

The class reportedly contained lessons saying that people should rest on the Sabbath in keeping with God’s order, and that they risk punishment for not following His orders. Records also revealed that the course described God in purely complimentary terms like “gracious and compassionate,” and “full of love.”

The district is located in the town of the same name, about five miles away from the company’s Oklahoma City headquarters. Hobby Lobby president Steve Green was part of the team developing the course curriculum.

The Associated Press reported earlier this year that Green met with Mustang school board members in April in separate meetings in a different county, hours before the board approved the class.

“This was something that we wanted to be able to have conversation about and ask questions,” McDaniel said at the time. “If we have the media and the public coming into Hobby Lobby headquarters with us, that can just be confusing and awkward since we’re all seeing it for the first time.”

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said at the time that board members are allowed to meet in separate groups without having a quorum, but that no actions can be taken at such meetings and board members in separate groups are not allowed to trade information. Green and McDaniel were reportedly present at both meetings.

The board subsequently approved the course as an elective, with McDaniel telling the Christian Post that he was “excited” to offer it.

But the foundation accused Green and the district of trying to conceal the nature of the course.

“Green’s involvement is much more than anyone is willing to admit, and they’ve been a bit disingenuous about it,’ FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel said after the course was approved. “They deliberately tried to keep the meetings closed to the public, which is not something you would hope to see with a public curriculum.” However, Religion News Service reported in July that the class had been postponed until January 2015, citing “unforeseen delays.”

Hobby Lobby and another family-owned company, Conestoga Wood Specialties, were the two firms at the center of a Supreme Court decision this past June saying that the government cannot order corporations to provide contraception coverage for their employees if doing so violated their religious beliefs.

‘LGBT Bingo’ Homework Part of Radical Campaign to Indoctrinate Youth

As reported by CharismaNews, a homework project that asks pupils to look out for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters in TV shows has been criticized by campaigners. The project includes a bingo-style game where children are asked to cross off squares when they come across an LGBT character or reference. The game encourages children as young as 11 to analyze how the media portrays same-sex relationships. It is part of a series of teaching resources developed by the Sex Education Forum, which lobbies for compulsory sex education in all schools.

Read the Charisma article here.

Dictionary.com Defines Homeschooling as “Mindless”

As reported by WND, Dictionary.com, the popular destination for writers seeking definitions and synonyms, contains some scathing commentary on homeschooling.

“If you want to keep your kids from reality and turn them into mindless automaton copies of yourself,” the site declares, “homeschool them.”

The pointed statement is just one of three potentially offensive sentences that could be found on the site as late as Tuesday morning as examples for how to use “homeschool” in a sentence.

“If you wish to teach your children such nonsense,” another of the sentences declares, “then homeschool where lame propaganda can remain unchallenged.”

“If she can’t find anyone willing to validate her helicopter parenting,” lists a third, “she’ll homeschool.”

Mark de la Viña, a representative for Dictionary.com, has since told WND the sentences have been removed and users who clear their computer’s cache and cookies should see the issue resolved.

You can read the rest of this article here.

Children cross Mexican border to receive a U.S. education

AT THE U.S. BORDER, Columbus, N.M. — The mothers, holding the small hands of their children, can go only as far as the glass door, where Mexico ends and America begins. They lean down and send off their little ones with a kiss and a silent prayer.

The children file into the U.S. port of entry, chatting in Spanish as they pull U.S. birth certificates covered in protective plastic from Barbie and SpongeBob backpacks. Armed U.S. border officers wave them onto American soil and the yellow buses waiting to take them to school in Luna County, N.M.

This is the daily ritual of the American schoolchildren of Palomas, Mexico, a phenomenon that dates back six decades and has helped blur the international border here.

Read the entire Washington Post article and watch the video report HERE.

‘It’s time to get out’ of public schools, says college professor

It’s nice to read headlines like this. Of course, it doesn’t take a college professor to figure this out. All that is required is common sense, which is what Anthony Esolen, an English professor at Providence College, seems to have. This is the same professor Esolen who wrote that the Common Core Curriculum has a “relentless, contemptible, soul-cramping, story-killing, pseudo-sophisticated, utilitarian focus.”

You can read his article here.

How do those words taste now, Dr. Evans?

Eleven years ago, Dennis L. Evans, Ed.D., then the director of doctoral programs in education leadership at the University of California, Irvine, wrote these words:

The isolation implicit in home teaching is anathema to socialization and citizenship. It is a rejection of community and makes the homeschooler the captive of the orthodoxies of the parents.

Dr. Evans’ argument was built mostly on teacher competence and the need for diversity and group dynamics. His theory was that home education doesn’t work because it cannot produce a socially-adept citizen who can think for him or herself. After all, Dr. Evans, was a member of the Board of Institutional Reviewers for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

But what’s of special interest to me about this is the opening sentence of the USA Today article cited above. He writes, “The popularity of home schooling, while not significant in terms of the number of children involved, is attracting growing attention from the media, which create the impression that a ‘movement’ is underway.”

Well, homeschooling is not proving to be a flash in the pan, some sensational weird fringe thing to report on for the sake of ratings. There is indeed a movement underway. The National Home Education Research Institute has a wealth of research and resources that completely disprove Dr. Evans’ and the rest of the educational establishments’ rhetoric against parent-led education.

According to Brian Ray, Ph.D., director of  NHERI, studies show quite the opposite of Dr, Evans’ predictions. He sites Professor Richard Medlin, writing in the Peabody Journal of Education, who reported the following:

This research paints a very favorable picture of homeschooled children. Compared to children attending conventional schools, they apparently have higher quality relationships both with close friends and with parents and other adults. They are happy, optimistic, satisfied with their lives, and have a positive attitude about themselves and about being homeschooled. As adolescents, they show a strong sense of social responsibility. They experience less stress and emotional turmoil and exhibit fewer problem behaviors than their peers.

Professor Medlin concludes:

Are homeschooled children acquiring the “skills, behavior patterns, values, and motivations” they need to function competently as members of society…? And the answer to that question, based on three decades of research on homeschooling, is clearly yes. Recent research, like that reviewed earlier…, gives every indication that the socialization experiences homeschooled children receive are more than adequate. In fact, some indicators-quality of friendships during childhood, infrequency of behavior problems during adolescence, openness to new experiences in college, civic involvement in adulthood-suggest that the kind of socialization experiences homeschooled children receive may be more advantageous than those of children who attend conventional schools.

Dr. Evans was wrong. The enemies of homeschooling are wrong. The enemies of God’s educational prescriptions will always be wrong. Parents are not only capable of educating their own children, they are divinely ordained and empowered by the Holy Spirit to do so.

Dr. Evans closed his article with these words: “Those contemplating home teaching might heed the words of the Roman educator, Quintilian (A.D. 95). In opposing home schooling, he wrote, “It is one thing to shun schools entirely, another to choose from them.” God-fearing Christians of the time did not heed Quintillian’s words, nor should we. We ought, rather, to heed the words of his contemporary and fellow Roman citizen, Paul the Apostle:

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Now those are words worth ingesting.

Fundamentally Transforming the United States of America

Peter WoodPeter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, has written a Report on the new AP History curriculum coming to a high school near you this Fall. According to John Aman, writing for WND, Wood calls the new AP U.S. history framework “a briefing document on progressive and leftist views of the American past,” one which “weaves together a vaguely Marxist or at least materialist reading of the key events with the whole litany of identity group grievances.”  

Aman also tells us that “Conservative author Stanley Kurtz asserts the College Board is ‘pushing U.S. history as far to the left as it can get away with at the high-school level.’ The new 124-page history curriculum is a dramatic departure from the five-page outline previously supplied by the College Board to guide AP U.S. history instructors. A much more detailed “history from below,” it focuses on how native Indians and Africans suffered at the hands of Europeans in the New World.”

Reading this reminded me of President Obama’s statement during an October 30, 2008, campaign rally in Columbia, Missouri. He said:

After decades of broken politics in Washington, and eight years of failed policies from George W. Bush, and 21 months of a campaign that’s taken us from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.

As we show in our film IndoctriNation, the transformation of America was planned a very long time ago and has been underway for many decades before Obama was even born. Nevertheless, it is evident to many observers that the “change we can believe in” has been taking place at an appalling speed, and it only seems to be accelerating.

American conservatives, and especially Christians, need to ask God for the discernment of “the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

We say it’s time to abandon the government’s indoctrination camps.

Common Core or Common Sense (with apologies to Thomas Payne)

In 1776, American colonists found themselves under the control of a tyrannical ruler. King George and Parliament had the agenda of controlling the colonists’ daily lives and livelihoods while using them for England’s sole benefit. The level of control had reached absurd levels and a few colonists were beginning to call for independence from England. Some colonists spoke of just reducing the levels of control while others seemed content to live under such tyranny.

To modern-day Americans, the choice seems obvious. But, we must remember that for many colonists living under the rule of a king was normal. It was all they had ever known and rebelling against him seemed like pure craziness. It was at this point that Thomas Paine anonymously wrote and published his pamphlet, Common Sense. Colonists every where read and heard his argument in favor of declaring independence. They were convicted of the need to throw off the tyranny of the king and free themselves. Those same colonists then created a new government in which they handed down the freedom they had fought so hard to obtain to the care of succeeding generations of United States citizens.

One would think that Americans would treasure and hold on to that personal freedom and liberty for all time. However, keeping such freedom also requires a great deal of personal responsibility and hard work. Over time, Americans gave up much of that personal liberty to their ever-increasing government because they did not like having to be responsible for themselves.

One area in which that occurred was in education. During America’s colonial days and early years as a country, education was controlled only by parents. Options ranged from teaching one’s own children to paying for them to attend a private school. A few public schools existed (especially in Puritan Massachusetts), but attendance upon an education of any kind was never compulsory. This responsibility for their children’s education required hard work from the parents, yet by and large, they rose to the challenge and produced generations of well-educated citizens.

However, there were people who wished to see a more powerful central government that could better direct and control the daily lives of the citizens. They realized the best way to do this was through the education of the upcoming generations. They first accustomed parents to the idea of sending their children to small, local one-room schools with locally-certified teachers. Over time, the certification process of teachers was expanded and standardized to create a group of “experts”. These instructors were presented as being better qualified than parents to teach children. Then, attendance in school was made compulsory so that parents had no choice but to send their children to those experts. The last step in the process is the standardization of the curriculum used nationwide. We can see this happening in the implementation of the Common Core.

Because the process of gaining control over the education of children was so gradual, parents unwittingly bought into the lie that the government knew best when it came to education, standards, teacher certification, testing, and curriculum among other things. They never even stopped to consider that there might be an agenda of control behind the lie.

Americans now find themselves under the tyrannical control of the government education system. This system seeks to control not only the education, but also the career choices of its citizens. The level of control reached such absurd levels that in the 1960s, some Americans sought to regain some of their freedoms via private Christian schools. This, in turn, led to the revival of the concept of homeschooling in the 1980s which gained a bit more of that freedom back. And yet, the government still controls our children’s education via regulations, standardized tests, and the almighty college diploma.

Some Americans are calling for complete independence from the government in the area of education. Others wish to simply reduce the level of control. Sadly, far too many parents seem content to let their children live under the tyranny of the government indoctrination programs known as public education.

The task at hand is as clear today as it was in 1776. We need to declare complete independence and emancipation from the government when it comes to the education of our children. We need to take back personal responsibility for this area and not rely on the government in any way, shape, or form to meet it. If we do not, then we will continue living under the oppressive thumb of a government run by people who seek to control our daily lives and livelihood for their sole benefit.