Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Groundhog (Park) Day

I don't know about all my other Mississippi/Louisiana friends, but I am still having trouble dealing with this whole Katrina aftermath. Most noticeably, I don't seem to be firing on all synapses. "Rita who?" I almost asked someone who remarked that although she lingered a while, she wasn't so bad. I was thinking "ex-girlfriend?" and then "oooooh, right. The other hurricane."

I went to park day yesterday. No one else showed up. I was disappointed but determined to make the best of it. As I pitifully hummed the second verse to "Alone again...naturally", I spied a mom with a tiny baby AND a few school-age kids. I approached her and struck up a conversation (Nosy? Who me? I prefer to call this networking.) and found out that she is, indeed, a homeschooler. Her youngest four--ranging in age from 3 weeks to 9 years old--have and will never, she says, step foot in a government-run school although her oldest is 18 and will graduate this year from PS.

While our children played, we had a lengthy, pleasant conversation (which, of course, included my brief-but-oh-so-interesting PEAK pitch.) and learned that we have a lot in common, so we traded contact information. As they were leaving, she stopped to chat with a mom of four children entering the park. They seemed to be admiring each other's babies and gear.

Mom #2's oldest looked schoolish age, so --you know--I networked. Guess what: another homeschooler. No kidding! Another complete stranger with four kids ages 3 months to 5 years who also didn't like any of the homeschool groups she's encountered. Never heard of PEAK (I'd carry a sign if it didn't get in my way.) and thought it was a great concept.

We chatted briefly and I learned that she "graduated" homeschool right here in the Jackson area, and (because the conversation naturally led to difficulties she faced as a HEK decades ago) she mentioned that she received LSU's top academic scholarship (here's the part where I mention that Scott, who is defisking HoNDA at COD's place, thinks federal legislation is necessary to "protect" today's HEKs from discrimination... insert snide ironic comment). I gave her my contact info, then left.

Not bad for a no-show park day! wasn't park day. It was Tuesday. Park days are on Wednesday. Somewhere in the post-Katrina mental noise, my brain lost Tuesday. All day yesterday, from breakfast to bedtime, I thought it was Wednesday. As a matter of fact, I woke up today thinking it was Thursday and was fully prepared to take Dag to ballet until Jack called. Several minutes **after** that conversation about which of us was picking up my sister from the airport tomorrow/Thursday, I thought "tomorrow? Thursday? ...wait a minute... WHAT HAPPENED TO TUESDAY?!"

And just like that, I had an extra day! So...we went to the park.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Look what I found!

"The H.R.3753/S.1691 blog is an online source of information for people working to kill the bills -- again -- and keep homeschooling from being further defined by federal legislation. "

I've written my elected officials to oppose this bill (aka Homeschool Non-Discrimination Act of 2005 or HoNDA). Have you?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

PEAK in the Press!

We're famous! Well, we *feel* famous. Many thanks go out to Jeanne for including us in her Midsouth Homeschoolers interview and, of course, HEM for publishing it.

Also, here is a recent local piece highlighting our newest PEAK group in Starkville, MS.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Assume the position!

HoNDA is subjected to an aggressive fisk by COD.

More HoNDA info here.

Call, write, fax and otherwise harass your elected officials. This is one bill that must be stopped.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Kill Bill

From a friend:

HONDA federal legislation

This is not a good bill for homeschoolers. It had died, but is now backagain as HB 3753. Both HSLDA and THSC support it. Read the article below that details the problems step by step. This is FEDERAL legislation and as such could undermine and reverse the gains that have been made state by state over the years. Just say NO to HONDA. Bad news for homeschoolers. These articles relate to the older version of the bill but the arguments still apply.

When contacting your represenatives to oppose this bill, be sure the state the correct new bill number HB 3753. This bill needs to be killed now!

*** Legislators, left to their own devices, will understandably represent the mainstream majority rather than the homeschooling minority. Unless we educate them, most people assume that children need to attend a conventional school to learn basic skills and become socialized. Since the government oversees and regulates public schools, many people assume it should regulate homeschools in the same way. They also assume that homeschoolers want legislation that gives us benefits like tax credits or that supposedly guarantees that we can participate in public school courses or programs.

*** Legislation is very difficult to direct and control. Anytime legislation is introduced that includes homeschooling provisions (even if it is not a homeschooling bill as such), an amendment could easily be added that would increase state regulation of homeschools. It's not a question of what we could gain if legislation were introduced to give us tax credits or some other benefit. It's a question of what we could lose through the legislative process.

*** Once legislation is passed, government agencies write regulations that have the force of law even though they are not written by a representative body. Again, minority groups run the risk that regulations will reflect mainstream values rather than their own and turn the law against them.

HSLDA is presenting incorrect, misleading, and exaggerated claims for what the bill would accomplish. Even in the unlikely event that the bill brought a few small gains for homeschoolers, those gains would not be worth the risks of opening the door to federal regulation of homeschooling, creating a backlash against homeschoolers, and strengthening the power of the federal government. Unfortunately, HSLDA has a strong presence in Washington, D. C., partly because its headquarters are near D. C. Therefore, it is very important that homeschoolers who do not support this bill contact their federal legislators. Otherwise, we could end up with legislation that undermines homeschooling being supported by legislators who thought they were helping homeschoolers.

Homeschooling legislation recently introduced in the U. S. Congress would open the door to federal regulation of homeschooling, perhaps through required standardized testing; generate a backlash against homeschoolers; and encourage homeschoolers to rely on so-called experts. It would not result in the benefits to homeschoolers that HSLDA claims it would. Homeschoolers who oppose this legislation need to contact their federal representatives so they do not assume that HSLDA speaks for homeschoolers or that homeschoolers want this legislation.

Certain states, such as Connecticut, have little or no state government regulation of homeschooling. This bill will impose regulation over homeschoolers where there was no regulation before.

The HONDA bill would insert regulations affecting homeschooling into several laws that would allow the federal government to impose regulation despite the fact that it has no authority to do so. While homeschoolers do encounter problems from time to time, the resolution to those problems is not necessarily found in newly amended federal law. Those problems quite often are resolved through other means such as education of the uninformed and negotiation.

HT: Jeanne

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Yet another deadline distraction

I'm a classic movie buff, so I couldn't resist taking the Classic Dames Test. Upon discovering my classic starlet alter ego, I shall hereafter answer my telephone as:

Rosalind Russell

You scored 16% grit, 38% wit, 28% flair, and 28% class!

You are one wise-cracking lady, always quick with a clever remark and easily able to keep up with the quips and puns that come along with the nutty situations you find yourself in. You're usually able to talk your way out of any jam, and even if you can't, you at least make it more interesting with your biting wit. You can match the smartest guy around line for line, and you've got an open mind that allows you to get what you want, even if you don't recognize it at first. Your leading men include Cary Grant and Clark Gable, men who can keep up with you.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Terribly distracted

I've been neglecting the blog due to other obligations. Hopefully, we'll be back on track in a few days. Have a nice weekend.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Mississippi for President

Chrenkoff posted a reader's comparison of the ways LA and MS handled the aftermath of Katrina.
I really don't like to find fault at times like this, but one thing that was missing was a quick recognition that in such a situation the potential for civil collapse is nearly 100%. Once the weather settles, you need to immediately declare marshal law and send in the MPs. That's basically what Haley Barbour did in Mississippi - there were a few early problems but very quickly the MPs were patrolling what was left of Biloxi and Gulfport and keeping a lid on things. Back on Tuesday when I put on the news and we all saw Kathleen Blanco bursting into tears, I knew that was the wrong message and would bring trouble. Louisiana and New Orleans basically have those touchy-feely, "I'm okay, you're okay" soft-leftie types in charge. Their education took a few days and has been expensive.

So I hope you're Watching Mississippi. Highly recommended - we may have found our next President out of this (you heard it here first).

Well, it's not the first time someone has tapped Governor Barbour as a presidential hopeful. One of the political mags we read--either National Review or The New Republic, I forget which--has already made that prediction. Also, several Mississippians I know have said they read the governor's signing of the Ten Commandments bill (allowing the display of the Biblical text in some state buildings and which pleased the right to no end) as an indication that he may be gearing up for a presidential bid.

Before Katrina, it was difficult to gauge how effective Gov. Barbour truly is due to the fact that, in Mississippi, the legislature holds the lion's share of the power. In the face of unprecedented budget deficits, he attempted to brutally cut funding for education and Medicaid, which I supported, but was forced to compromise due to public outcry, political pressure and legislative stonewalling. However, he has not hesitated to rein in the legislature using special sessions and refusing to sign bills unless his conditions are met. Unlike his predecessor, Gov. Barbour has not allowed our elected state officials to emasculate him.

He has his shortcomings and his quirks, but I like him. His ability to handle the crises of Katrina has been down right admirable. I'd vote for him. Again.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Mourning sickness

I don't think I can stand to look at another moment of television coverage, yet I sit there. When I'm not planted in front of the television, I'm on the computer checking Interdictor's blog and webcam. When I'm not doing that, I'm outside trying to forget what I've seen. I've been wasting a lot of time sitting solo on the front porch staring into space.

New Orleans is more than just some enchanted city to me. I have personal history in New Orleans and Thibodaux, a small town southwest of NO. My family moved to Thibodaux in the middle (literally during Christmas break) of my tenth grade year right before (literally nine days) before my sixteenth birthday. Needless to say, I hated my parents for several months after uprooting me from the town I'd practically grown up in, the buzzing metropolis of Mendenhall, MS. Seemed like as good a time as any to rebel.

BTW, my dad is a Southern Baptist minister. And, as I've stated many times before, preachers' kids get a lot of heat for being rebellious and mischievous, but --for the record-- we got it all from the deacons' children. No kidding.

We were close enough to New Orleans that our parents would let us take the car there but far enough away to feel safe from the big city crime. We knew the rules of how not to get mugged, where to park, where not to go after dark (as well as where TO go as soon as the sun set) and that--if the need arose-- we were never to take anything but a Union Cab (I don't know why, but everyone said so). We knew that city like the backs of our hands.

I fell in love hard for the first time in New Orleans, had my first child at Ochsner, saw my first off-Broadway play in the Saenger Theater. Even after I moved away, I kept coming back. Three weeks after I met my husband, we toured the French Quarter (after I subjected him to my 10-year high school reunion). When Dagny was still a nursing baby, as a gift, he treated me to a Diane Krall concert, so we all went along with my mother-in-law in tow as a sitter. I always thought that "one of these days" I'd have a second home in New Orleans (a dream my husband did not share. He thinks/thought New Orleans is/was too gritty.).

My Cresent City connection predates my birth. My parents met at Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter at a mixer for the incoming students of NO Baptist Theological Seminary. Every single time our family went back (which was often), we heard it all over again as if my parents were talking to strangers.

Mom: (looking around) This is where your father and I met...
Kids: Yes, Mama, we know.
Mom: (gesturing) He was over there...
Kids: **sigh**
Mom: and I was over there...
Kids: mmm-hmm
Mom: I thought he was a jerk and he thought I was a snob, but I wasn't. I was just shy...
(at this point, mom yammers about what he was like in seminary, about the confusion surrounding a date my mom was supposed to have with my dad who was actually setting her up with his roommate, how angry she got at him...and finally...)
Mom: ...but I got him back for that...
Kids and Mom: I married him. [insert laugh track here]

(Come to think of it, I seem to remember my father being there, but I don't recall him saying anything.)

I became so conditioned by the association of beignets with this story that any time I went with friends to Cafe de Monde, I'd automatically say, "This is where my mom and dad met..." and they'd say, "Yes, Natalie, we knooooow..."

When I turn on my tv, this is not the New Orleans I see. It breaks my heart. The loss of humanity, both physically and morally, is staggering. But the fact that a city, a landmark for most of my coming-of-age years, no longer exists is incomprehensible. It adds a whole new dimension to my grief. I can't begin to put it into words.

Will New Orleans be rebuilt? And if so, will it ever be what it once was? As long as the port and refineries are salvagable, I think she's got a fighting chance to become even more vibrant than before. When the aquarium reopens, the sidewalk cafes resume business, and the city is bustling again, I'll be back in Cafe du Monde with my family and pestering my children.

"This is where your grandma and grandpa met..."