Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Children Who Have Never Been to School

An article regarding a group of reclusive families in New Zealand describes efforts of the goverment's educational department to gain access to the group's 19 children. Since the children are healthy and safe, the sole focus on the piece is on concern for their education.

Anahera Van Duin, who has four children, said she and her siblings wanted to educate their children themselves. "They were trying to find a way to put us in a box. They can't." Mrs Van Duin lives at Mokau, on the coast between Herekino and Ahipara, with her brother Stephen Tango, his wife Phillippa, and her sister Stephanie Samuels, with her husband Luke.

[Education Minister David] Benson Pope said he wanted to explore other options to get the children into structured education. One option was taking the children from the parents, although Mr Benson Pope said he did not favour that.

However, he questioned whether the ministry should keep trying in the face of such adamant resistance. "If people go to such extraordinary lengths to cut themselves off from what we would regard as more normal society, what can we do or would we want to, to actually try to include them?"
I'm not quite sure what to make of this, but that last paragraph eerily reminded me of a book I read long ago:
"[The boys] found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society. They were glad to touch the brown backs of the fence that hemmed in the terror [of the makeshift beast] and made it governable." Lord of the Flies (Chapter 9, pg. 138)

This is comforting...

Excerpt from Transcript of President Bush's Press Conference, New York Times, April 28

QUESTION: Mr. President, recently the head of the Family Research Council said that judicial filibusters are an attack against people of faith. And I wonder whether you believe that, in fact, that is what is motivating Democrats who oppose your judicial choices. And I wonder what you think, generally, about the role that faith is playing, how it's being used in our political debates right now."

BUSH: I think people are opposing my nominees because they don't like the judicial philosophy of the people I've nominated. And some would like to see judges legislate from the bench. That's not my view of the proper role of a judge...."Role of religion in our society? I view religion as a personal matter. I think a person ought to be judged on how he or she lives his life or lives her life. And that's how I've tried to live my life: through example. Faith plays an important part in my life individually. But I don't ascribe a person's opposing my nominations to an issue of faith.

QUESTION: Do you think that's an inappropriate statement?

BUSH: No. I think people oppose my nominees because of judicial philosophy.

QUESTION: Sir, I asked you about what you think of...the way faith is being used in our political debates, not just in society generally.

BUSH: Well, I can only speak to myself. And I am mindful that people in political office shouldn't say to somebody, You're not equally American if you don't happen to agree with my view of religion. As I said, I think faith is a personal issue. And I take great strength from my faith. But I don't condemn somebody in the political process because they may not agree with me on religion. The great thing about America is that you should be allowed to worship any way you want. And if you chose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship. And if you choose to worship, you're equally American if you're a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim. And that's the wonderful thing about our country and that's the way it should be.

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you...

the shoe of happiness... back to regular programming.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Dear "Confused in Illinois"...

One of Thomas "The Monkey" Scott's colleagues, Kevin McCullough, took him to task with a blow-by-blow rolling commentary in the Illinois Leader. While far too gentle, in my opinion, he does an adequate job of exposing the lack of research and exclusion of rational thought displayed by Mr. Scott.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

More HE insights from the Monkey

Scott Thomas responds to home-schoolers who took him to task for his column last week:

"My point was not that home schooling isn’t right for some. My point was it probably wasn’t right for most."

It's all so clear to me now. Someone give that man a banana.

I wish I could take it all back

I apologize for linking to The Daily Apology, a blog owned by Libertarian, attorney and Criss family friend N. Stephan Kinsella. I also apologize if some tightly wound Objectivists view said linkage as tolerationistical. Furthermore, I regret using a non-word to describe a serious act which has led to the shunning, black-listing, and excommunication of such offenders. Remorsefully, I also repent from using a reference to religious punishment to describe anything remotely associated with Objectivism, which may only further confuse those ignorant of the true nature of Rand's philosophy. Mostly, I am just sorry I didn't quit while I was ahead.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Aaah, shee-yut up...

This article is so riddled with holes, self-contradiction and shots in the dark that it's just not worth a letter to the editor. So poorly constructed is this rant that it can only be an attempt to rile up a group in hopes of generating publicity and increasing ratings.

Put down the pen. Don't feed the monkey.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Has it been five days??

Sorry for the silence. I'm currently juggling double deadlines, helping to throw my Gran's 80th surprise party, juggling 4-H and...what else...oh, homeschooling! Expect more bloggage next week. In the meantime, here is a very short list of my favorite homeschool blogs:

AHA Weblogs
Dare to Know
Here in the Bonny Glen
Home Education & Other Stuff

If you didn't see your blog on here, and you KNOW that I read it (I'm an avid commenter), stop whining! This is my short list. I'll add them all to my long list on the home page as soon as I clear my calendar. Until then, goodnight, sleep tight, and may your dreams come true...

[Ten bloggie points to the person who knows the song snipit above and the program from whence it came.]

Friday, April 15, 2005

I think, therefore I am...

...struggling with the realization that I have become intellectually lazy. There, I said it. I have a litany of excuses, but the truth is that I, once a sharp kid, have not paid attention to or engaged in any pursuits of the mind in the last year or so, because I ceased making it a priority. Excuses aside, diving into, deciphering, applying and debating (how I love a thoroughly brain-jostling tete-a-tete) take a lot of time and effort.

Let me explain what happens when one stops engaging the mind. Important principles a person once held dear mean less and less until they do not matter at all. The straight lines of logic and reason begin to blur. It becomes easier to justify keeping the peace until one realizes that she has begun to accept or ignore the very things that once made the mind cry, "FOUL!!"

Procrastination is how it always starts with me. I intend to read a book or listen to a lecture my husband purchased for me months ago. Then I reason that I simply do not have time, then find something less demanding to do. I've noticed that the less taxing a task is, the easier it is to bundle it into a group of similarly easy tasks to be completed together (multi-tasking). The result makes me feel tremendously productive in the short term but means nothing in the long term. I begin to congratulate myself for the most menial things: Three loads of laundry washed and folded, kitchen floor swept, dog fed. TAH-DAH!! What is even worse is that with these non-events as my highs, I have to find some lower lows (sleeping too late, eating when I'm bored, mindless web surfing, etc).

Everything becomes harder. I wait until the absolute last minute to fulfill deadlines (though I do make them, it is stressful). I stop taking care of myself (eating well, walking, getting enough sleep). I get less accomplished and feel perpetually behind. In the evenings, when I should be enjoying time with my husband and children, I am playing catch-up with writing, a forgotten project or housework. Later, I feel guilty for neglecting my family. Eventually, a pattern emerges and I find myself adrift.

Living this way, it is impossible to enjoy the moment. I have not yet sunken into the bowels of depression or become one of those desperate housewives, but it is not difficult to see how easy that would be if I continued to exist rather than live.

The remedy: living consciously.

I won't share how I intend to do that, as that is more personal than I'm willing to get in this public space. I will say that is doesn't take a sweeping reevaluation and rearrangement of one's life to exact such a change. However, it does require a less than subtle shift in attitude (the rest follows), one that I hope is reflected in future posts here.

It's late. I'm going to bed. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Green Revolution

No, this is not another former Soviet state pushing for democracy. However, this uprising against an oppressive regime is fueled by students who are taking on the system...the Texas public school system. Rather than regurgitate the watered down material being shoved at them in preparation for TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills), several students--some as young as 11 years old-- are protesting, even boycotting, the test and railing against the widespread practice of "teaching to the test." BTW, these are bright, well-behaved achievers, not kids looking for an excuse to ditch class.

Maeghan Gibson, 17, another Advanced Placement student, decided to protest earlier this year. She and her fellow students would take the TAKS tests but not without raising issues they thought should be discussed.

Protest T-shirts were made with the slogans: "Walking standardized test score," "I am not in the equation of my education" and "Total Annihilation of Knowledge and

Gibson took orders for more than 60 green T-shirts. The green is part of a joke based on whispered stories about how students who wear green are more likely to pass TAKS tests.

But word got around, and the shirts were temporarily confiscated by the school administration and deemed "disruptive."

It is highly unlikely that their protest will have any effect on the future of TAKS. One also has to wonder why their surprisingly supportive parents don't home educate these frustrated children who are demanding (literally, read the article) the freedom to learn, discuss and explore. However, it is refreshing and encouraging to read about these inspired products of the PSS who have somehow managed to maintain their desire to learn. Well worth a click and read.

Power to the people!

[top: Haltom High School juniors Chase Robinson, left, and Maeghan Gibson; above: Mia Kang, 14, a freshman at San Antonio's MacArthur High School]

Sunday, April 10, 2005

No such thing as a free lunch

Tell that to homeschoolers who live in the homeschool friendly state of Texas and think they can claim federal money without consequence. Galveston County's Daily News even spells it out:
The federal government gives money to the state, which then sends money to public schools across Texas, said CCISD Spokesperson Carrie Taylor, the school districts are then responsible for distributing some of that money to eligible private schools and home school groups with nonprofit status located in their boundaries.

Federal --> State --> School districts--> Home schools. That's called a thread of logic with strings attached yet homeschoolers continually fall for this hook, line, and sinker. Not unlike these "poor, unsuspecting souls" in Oregon. Frankly, ailing school districts would rather keep it, so let 'em. Just say "no" to federal funds, public school sports, public school dual enrollment, cyber schools and other wolves in sheep's clothing.

Confessions of a WAHM (Work at Home Mom)

by Natalie West Criss
(Published in Metro Business Chronicle's MS Biz Column)
April 2005

As a young girl, I always knew I’d go to college, have a career, get married, and become a mother. That I’d be a working mother was never in dispute, though I had no inkling until my early twenties just what that work would be. Far too many years and majors later, I finally settled on marketing.

When I began my career in media, I thought I had found the ultimate job opportunity from which my life’s work would take flight, the calling I had longed for during the college years while filling what I considered mediocre, futureless positions liking peddling lipstick and mowing lawns: I was the assistant to the sales department for a small television station in the Delta.

Less than a year later, I learned two valuable lessons: (a) never underestimate the power of a devious, long-lived office manager and (b) hire a good lawyer. Still convinced that television marketing was for me but equally confident that the station that hired me was not, I moved across the street to the competitor after settling a brief contract dispute.

Through the years that followed, I honed my skills, secured promotions and received adequate salaries along with the respect of most of my superiors and coworkers. I learned that my strengths are writing and special events coordination and that my weaknesses are public speaking and selling. Although I could do all four, I wasn’t content or fulfilled. I kept plugging away for that one big moment which always seemed just beyond my grasp. At one point, I think I would’ve settled for resigned complacency. Eventually, I didn’t want to continue, because I didn’t believe in what I was doing anymore.

After I met and married my husband (who just happens to be the publisher of the fine paper you are holding), I had my second child and quit my job during maternity leave. Free to stay at home with our two daughters, we also decided to start homeschooling. Of course, “free” connotes that I did not have a colicky baby for nearly six months much like “we” insinuates that both parents were at home, fully available to one another for support. Unfortunately, neither was the case.

One year at home with my children challenged everything about the way I viewed my future, the status I had worked to achieve, the attitudes instilled within me throughout my education, the standards by which I measured my worth, my identity as an woman, and my definition of independence. Regardless of how many times I had insisted that I would welcome the chance to leave the workplace behind to raise a family instead, I never really expected to become a stay-at-home mom much less a home school teacher, yet there I was. For months, I pitifully mourned the loss of my “former self” (which now sounds absolutely ridiculous).

After that transitional year, during which I was not exactly a bright ray of matrimonial support and companionship, I wrote my first article for publication (prompted by Jack, who was undoubtedly anxious for me to find a hobby). Soon, I began learning more about my husband’s work, familiarizing myself with layout and design, researching various writers and studying their varied styles of communication.

Similarly, I set out to discover how other women succeed and achieve fulfillment under similar circumstances at home and in the office. I have a newfound respect for stay-at-home mothers who certainly do not lead the leisurely life I once imagined. Likewise, I have a renewed appreciation for trailblazing women executives like the late Mary Kay Ash whose cosmetics and business savvy introduced me to the world of marketing and entrepreneurship almost two decades ago.

The realization slowly dawned that I not only enjoy researching more than I ever liked promoting television stations in Market #181, but that I also might have a future as a freelance writer in an office with a view of the playroom. Until then, I had regarded work and home as two separate --not altogether equal-- entities. Now I know better.

What first seemed like a mistake made in the midst of postpartum recovery has resulted in the development of a talent that has allowed me to work with multiple publications across the South, write copy for multi-million-dollar accounts, become a homeschool advocate, and even garner national coverage of my personal blog on heavily trafficked political and educational sites. Best of all, I am meeting my children’s educational and maternal needs while enjoying the benefits of the partnership I’ve formed with my husband, both professionally and in life.
By widening my view and tearing down my own stereotypes, I’ve gained more personally and professionally than I’ve ever sacrificed. The result is a net profit of which I am quite proud.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Daytime curfew affects MS homeschoolers

Latest News: Petal's Board of Aldermen have revised the curfew ordinance to exclude homeschoolers...sort of.

The amendment more clearly defines which students are bound by the curfew according to state law. The ordinance previously said that all minors could not be in a public place during school hours. The amendment says that minors enrolled in a non-public school may be in public if they are engaged in activities under the direction of a parent or guardian.

That last sentence means they're not exempt and must be supervised...even if, say, your 16-year-old homeschools at night and holds a part-time job or volunteers during the day? Considering that the number of homeschoolers (heck, the number of people, period) in Petal, MS amounts to a very small percentage, making such an incident far less likely than in, say, the Jackson Metro area, that possibility still exists. Just call it what it is: A restriction.

For the original article, click here.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Hello, I must be going

My apologies for the lack of RR&Rs in the last few days. The Criss household is currently under deadline. Check back in two days when we've put the latest issue to bed.

In the meantime, read this and talk amongst yourselves. It is quite possibly the best essay/blog post/argument I've read concerning the gay marriage debate. No, no. You think you know, but you don't. Read it.

Bonus: Jane Galt...anyone else catch the Randism?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Out of Play

This article (among many other things) makes me so glad that we chose to homeschool.

Pardon me while I abandon my usual format to endulge in some random memories of recess:

Sitting in a patch of clovers making flower chains and running from bees (I taught Dagny how to do that two weeks ago...both linking flowers and running from bees)

Navigating the monkey bars, then licking the soar spots on my hands (oblivious to the colonies of germs setting up house in the crevaces of my skin...eeew.)

Arguing with my best friend, Anita Benton, in 4th grade and walking passed her on the playground as I mocked her by saying "What's wrong, Anita? You look like you lost your best friend." That was so mean. I don't remember, but I'm sure I apologized because we were close until 6th (then she hit a growth spurt and became a basketball superstar and joined the popular group much to my vertically challenged dismay...who's cryin' now, huh?? ).

Playing kiss-chase with our group's one and only guy regular...who I'm now certain is/was gay...(name know, just in case)

Nearly dying of full-blown mortification when Ken Coker, a guy I thought was both cute AND smart, said quietly (as he was sincerely trying to warn me) "People can see your Wonder Woman underroos through that sweater" while we were lining up to go back inside.

Laughing at the antics of Johnny Taylor and Erich Holmes, the two perpetually bad boys, from 3rd grade through 9th (btw, Johnny took me to my first Valentine's Banquet in 6th grade...I was always a sucker for the bad glad I married a good one!)

Informing a boy whose hand was bleeding from a pencil lead inflicted wound that the reason his blood was blue was because it was from a vein, the logic being that unoxygenated blood is blue (like in the science text diagrams). Nevermind that (among other flaws) the blood was exposed to air in the great outdoors when it erupted to the surface. I always was quite the scientist. :p

Running to school with a 2nd grade classmate (Quincy) and arguing with the whole time about the differences between "early" and "late" (he was right, I had it backwards). I finally yelled, "Which ever one it is, we're IT!"

Doing cartwheels all the way around the perimeter of the playground nonstop.

Telling a random girl from the high school "that boy over there with the yellow hair is my boyfriend." I said "yellow" instead of "blonde" because I had just learned what "blonde" meant and was afraid she didn't know yet.

Sticking up for my friend, Denea Rogers (my first best friend in 1st and 2nd grade), when this evil girl named Carmen made fun of her. Then telling Denea a few weeks later that we were moving away. We sat under a tree and cried.

I wonder what ever happened to all those people. And why is it that I can remember all these names but can't recall what I wore two days ago??

(If this has you walking down memory lane, leave a comment with a memory from recess. This was fun!)

Friday, April 01, 2005

You've been hoodwinked!!

[inside joke]

Come on, you didn't really BELIEVE that, did you??
No time for a real post today. There is mischief to be made.

Happy April Fool's Day!