Saturday, December 6, 2008

America Needs "Change Parents Can Believe In

The following piece appears at Net Right and can also be found at the Americans for Limited Government website. Yes it is a message that I have said more than once but it needs to be said again. As many people as possible need to point this out to their readers, please share this with your friends.


America Needs "Change Parents Can Believe In"
Written by Howie Rich
Thursday, 04 December 2008 18:04
Let's not kid ourselves.

Barack Obama isn't the first (and he certainly won't be the last) Washington politician to send his children to exclusive private schools.

In fact, Sidwell Friends – the elite private academy chosen by the Obamas for their two young daughters – was also selected by Bill and Hillary Clinton for their daughter, Chelsea, while they lived in the White House.

But you won't hear me – or any other true educational choice advocate – condemning either family for selecting the educational environment that best fits the needs of their children.

That's their right as parents.

In fact, in selecting this $29,000-a-year school, Michelle Obama specifically described it as "the best fit for what (our) daughters need now."

Meanwhile in South Carolina (which includes eight counties with a median household income below what the Obamas will pay per child in tuition costs this coming year) one of the state's top gubernatorial prospects, James E. Smith, also chooses to send his children to a prestigious private academy.

Again, that's his choice – and based on South Carolina's worst-in-the-nation graduation rate, it's hard to fault him for it.

In Oregon, where the graduation rate is much higher, House Speaker Jeff Merkley and his wife recently attempted to enroll two of their children in a newly-formed charter school. In this case, it wasn't that their public schools were all that bad, they simply wanted something better.

Yet when reporters first asked Speaker Merkley about his children's applications, he denied having ever submitted them.

How come?

Well, as it turned out, Merkley had voted against Oregon's charter school legislation just a few years earlier.

Likewise, South Carolina's Rep. Smith has been one of the most vocal opponents of parental choice in South Carolina – including choice for those eight counties with household incomes below what the Obamas will pay to send just one of their children to private school this coming year.

And then there's Obama himself, who is following in the footsteps of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and his Illinois colleague Jesse Jackson, Jr., in ardently opposing academic scholarships and tuition tax credits which in most cases add up to less than half what public schools are spending.

"We need to focus on fixing and improving our public schools; not throwing our hands up and walking away from them," Obama says, a clever sound bite that ignores the billions in new taxpayer dollars we pour into public education year after year in an unsuccessful effort to do just that.

Sadly, politicians like Obama, the Clintons, Kennedy, Jackson, Smith and Merkley are hardly unique in availing themselves of the very choices they refuse to make more accessible to the vast majority of American parents.

According to a 2007 report by the Heritage Foundation, 37 percent of U.S. Representatives and 45 percent of U.S. Senators enroll their children in private schools – a rate four times higher than that of the general population.

Simply put, choice is a good thing – but only for those rich or powerful enough to enjoy it.
So what is Obama's solution for the rest of America's parents?

For all his talk of "change we need," and "change we can believe in," Obama's plan is all too familiar – keep throwing more money into the same old failed bureaucracies while branding anyone who wants to empower parents as being "anti-public education."

Yet as our nation falls further behind its industrialized peers in standardized test scores, we desperately need an education system focused on achieving results, not accommodating a status quo that has proven utterly incapable at adapting to a changing world.

More money and expensive new "accountability" measures have clearly failed to move us forward.

We must now provide change that parents can believe in, a process which begins, ironically, with providing them the same choices currently enjoyed by their leaders.

The author is Chairman of Americans for Limited Government.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Teachers Unions Bankrupting American Education

Hat Tip to Rich Johns from Townhall Meeting and a fellow tax fighter from Illinois for sending us to the following video. The following story appears on one of my favorite sites Teacher Unions Facts. Please go to the site to see the video we have dial-up and so do many of our readers so I do not want to embed the video here.


Teachers Unions Bankrupting American Education

"Big labor unions have destroyed countless American industries, including the Detroit automakers who are now begging Congress for a bailout. But these unions don’t just control factories and assembly lines. Our public education system is a slow-motion car crash, driven by the same union special interests that brought the auto companies to the brink of bankruptcy.

This insightful new video shows how teachers unions protect bad and incompetent teachers, block school reform efforts, and use their members’ dues money to support a radical left-wing agenda.

Compared to other developed countries, the United States has the worst educational quality per dollar spent on schools, ranking 18th in reading and 28th in math. Millions of American children are being shortchanged by dysfunctional schools, but efforts for education reform are invariably stopped by powerful union interests.

These unions fight tooth and nail against any meaningful change to their comfortable status quo – while students and taxpayers pay the price.

After decades of denial, there is a growing realization around the country that teachers unions’ defense of the status quo cannot continue. A new generation of reformers, including Michelle Rhee, the chief of public schools in Washington DC, are fighting those unions and pushing for renewed accountability and an end to the broken tenure system. is a project of the non-profit Center for Union Facts. With your support, we can fix our public schools and expel these special interest groups. Your tax-deductible donation will help us show Americans the truth about today’s teachers unions.

Please make a contribution today, and forward this message to your friends, family, and anyone interested in helping take back our schools."

Home Schools Run By Well-Meaning Amateurs

I almost fell out of my chair laughing when I read the following piece. It was especially funny because I recently read the piece from the HSDLA about how "The best homeschooled students systematically outperform the best non-homeschooled students. "

Home Schools Run By Well-Meaning Amateurs
Schools With Good Teachers Are Best-Suited to Shape Young Minds

By Dave Arnold

There's nothing like having the right person with the right experience, skills and tools to accomplish a specific task. Certain jobs are best left to the pros, such as, formal education.
There are few homeowners who can tackle every aspect of home repair. A few of us might know carpentry, plumbing and, let’s say, cementing. Others may know about electrical work, tiling and roofing. But hardly anyone can do it all.

Same goes for cars. Not many people have the skills and knowledge to perform all repairs on the family car. Even if they do, they probably don’t own the proper tools. Heck, some people have their hands full just knowing how to drive.

So, why would some parents assume they know enough about every academic subject to home-school their children? You would think that they might leave this -- the shaping of their children’s minds, careers, and futures -- to trained professionals. That is, to those who have worked steadily at their profession for 10, 20, 30 years! Teachers!

For continued giggles you can read the rest of the piece on the NEA website.

I would also like to once again direct my readers to a great series by Michael Hodges titled "Grandfather Economic Report series." He has an excellent analysis of the public school system.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Random Thoughts

The other day Anastasia and I were working on her U.S. geography lessons. Anastasia was looking at a blank map of the United States and identifying said States. For some of the States she would say the capital instead of the state's name. For example she would say "Boise" and I would say, "Whose capital is Boise?" and she would say "Idaho." I love learning time with my daughter it is amazing to watch her, sometimes you can actually see her think and see the light come on when she gets the answer or understands the concept we are teaching.

On Monday we went to gymnastics. One of the girl's Mom left to go home and do something. As the mother was driving away the little girl said to Anastasia "We have an Obama sticker on our car." Anastasia replied, "We voted for McCain. " Before the election my daughter saw an Obama sign and my daughter said, "There are some more Obama idiots." My daughter is very sensitive when I told her Obama won she was very sad. She said, "I hope he does not take all of our money." She also asked "Will we be able to still homeschool?" It is clear that the election was discussed a great deal in some households including ours. My daughter still mentions she wants McCain to be president when we see signs I always explain to her that Obama will be our President and we hope that he will do his best to lead our Country.

I don't remember being four but it is clear that we need to be a little more careful about what we say to our intelligent little girl.

Raising boys to me seems more difficult than raising girls. Alexander just does not seem to understand "No!" He is into everything so much that a great deal of my day is spent cleaning up after him. He loves to help out around the house and sometimes to my dismay. There is no point in putting him in the crib or playpen because he just fusses, screams or cries until he is free. It is best to let him do his thing because it is so hard to concentrate when he is fusing. Here is my little helper, helping with the laundry and throwing out garbage.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Update To An Earlier Post About Homeschoolers.

In my earlier post today I mentioned how the HSDLA needs to update their statistics on how well homeschoolers perform. Minutes after typing that post I received the following from HSDLA.

We left Illinois to come to New Hampshire in part because we loved the "Live Free or Die" attitude of New Hampshire Residents. Unfortunately we moved here on election day 2006 when New Hampshire became a blue State. As big and bureaucratic as Illinois is, Homeschoolers have complete homeschooling freedom. On the other hand New Hampshire moderates homeschoolers with more regulation. Twenty five states have either complete homeschooling freedom or are required to only inform the state that they are homeschooling without further regulation.

Legislators across the United States should leave homeschoolers alone and focus on improving our failing public education system.


Washington Times Op-ed—Testing Proves Success of Graduates

by J. Michael Smith
HSLDA President

From the beginning of the re-emergence of homeschooling in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the strongest criticism of homeschooling was that untrained, noncredentialed parents could not provide the quality of instruction needed to match the education provided in public and private schools. To address this criticism, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) commissioned several studies to compare how homeschoolers score on standardized achievement tests compared to their public and private school counterparts.

The results of those tests demonstrated that on average, homeschooled children regularly outperformed their peers. These test results had a significant impact on the growth of homeschooling. First, state legislators were convinced that homeschooling parents could provide a high level of education, and they passed laws that recognized the right to homeschool. Additionally, many parents who were contemplating homeschooling were encouraged to take the leap of faith to educate their children at home.

What the test results demonstrate is that a homeschool program tailored to the individual needs of the student is the best method of educating a child. This reality was further supported by test results on the SAT and ACT that demonstrated that the average homeschooled graduate tested higher than the average graduate from public schools.

Now we have additional test results that demonstrate homeschool graduates compare favorably with students at such prestigious schools as Harvard, Yale and Princeton universities and the University of Virginia.

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) administers the American Civic Literacy Test (ACLT) to college students to measure their factual knowledge about American history, the Constitution and more. The results reveal that students nationwide lack even the basics. When ISI administered the ACLT in 2006 to a sample of students attending Ivy League schools, Harvard seniors answered 69.56 percent of the questions correctly, Yale seniors answered 65.85 percent correctly and Princeton seniors answered 61.90 percent.

Compare this with students at Patrick Henry College (PHC), a Christian classical college located 50 miles Northwest of the District, where 80 percent of the students come from homeschooling backgrounds. The ACLT was given to PHC freshmen this fall. These freshmen scored at 71.6 percent, two points higher than Harvard’s seniors and 17.4 percent higher than the average senior mean score at 50 of the country’s top institutions of higher education.

I also have seen the scores of PHC freshmen on a standardized test by Educational Testing Service known as MAPP (Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress). The MAPP tests proficiency in critical thinking, reading, writing and mathematics, and the results permit us to compare incoming PHC freshmen with college seniors at 253 participating institutions. The PHC freshmen tested higher than seniors at every other participating institution, including Baylor University, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the universities of Colorado, Georgia and Mississippi.

The ACLT and MAPP results have their limits, and it must be remembered that PHC only admits high-achieving applicants.

The test results do show clearly what happens when you compare the best with the best: The best homeschooled students systematically outperform the best non-homeschooled students. This success did not happen automatically. It happened because tens of thousands of dedicated parents made tremendous sacrifices to educate their children.

I believe we can safely say the type of parental involvement children receive in a homeschool environment and the learning environment created by the home are significant factors in the success of the homeschool movement in academics. These results are a testament to the dedication of parents as well as the homeschool method of teaching. It is a proven combination for success in education.

Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at (540)338-5600; or send email to

New Hampshire Homeschooler's Freedoms May Be Under Attack Again.

I received an email yesterday that got my blood boiling and reminded me of another post I intended to write but did not. The article appeared on one of my favorite sites that I often viewed prior to the election,

It is my understanding that most homeschoolers homeschool because public schools are failing to educate our children. Legislators should focus on improving public schools before meddling in the lives of homeschoolers. My four year old reads at the second grade level and most of her subject mastery is between the first and second grade level I do not need New Hampshire public schools interfering with the education of my children. Please let me focus on her education not the governments ridiculous laws that interfere with her education process.


The following is a partial post from

Extra-Legal Homeschooler Harassment: Happens Often, But It's Not News
By Tom Blumer
November 26, 2008 - 13:14 ET
This is not a promo for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) per se, as there may be other similarly effective organizations out there to help families who homeschool their kids.

But if the following examples don't prove that homeschooled children and their parents need to have access to legal help at a moment's notice, I don't know what will. I will present blood-boiling excerpts here, but strongly advise all to read the full stories at the links.

First, the HSLDA reported the following incident at their web site on November 6 (HT One News Now):

The Smiths (named changed to protect privacy), an HSLDA member family in Miami, received an unexpected note on their front door from a social worker asking them to call the number on an attached business card. Little did they know, this was the beginning a nightmare they would not soon forget.

The father, a doctor, telephoned as requested. The social worker to whom he spoke asked to meet the family. Dr. Smith requested that the meeting be at a neutral site at a time that would minimize interruptions in his busy work schedule at a medical clinic. The social worker refused, and declared she would arrive at the Smith home the next morning to “enter the home and interview the children.”

Dr. Smith then asked what the allegations were. The social worker refused to answer, but indicated she knew the family homeschooled. Sure enough, when the social worker showed up at the Smiths’ doorstep the next morning, she again refused to explain what the allegations against the family were. This clearly violated federal law, which states that social workers must reveal allegations at the initial time of contact.

The social worker also did not have a search warrant, so Mrs. Smith initially refused to let her enter the family home. This prompted the social worker to call for two police officers.

With this intimidation, Mrs. Smith allowed the social worker to start talking to the children on the front porch. During the first interview, the social worker went so far as to lift up the shirt of the Smiths’ 9-year-old daughter, which greatly embarrassed the girl. Later, the family learned that the allegations had nothing to do with their 9-year-old.

At this point, Mrs. Smith called HSLDA, desperate for help.

..... (at one point) the social worker had one of the police officers move toward Dr. Smith, and she told the officer to handcuff him so she could remove his children from the home.

After being threatened to this extreme, the family felt they had no choice but to let the social worker into their home to interview the children, who were now crying and wailing. During the interview, the social worker would not let the witness the family provided be present. She also proceeded to lift the shirts and clothing of each child, even those whom the allegations did not concern.

The social worker found nothing—but said still she wanted the family to “undergo a formal psycho-social assessment."

Please view the rest of the story at

The HSDLA has a great article on the academic statistics on homeschooling but it is dated 2004 I would like to see them do an update.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Peyton Wolcott

I received an email update from Peyton Wolcott on November 24th. I do not update or tend to this BLOG as much as I would like as my priorities are with my one year old and four year old.

Peyton has an excellent site on school accountability. In her email she reported that nationwide a number of schools are posting their check registers online.

She has a piece on her site that I am copying below because it is so great.


Over a century ago our industrialist robber barons began pushing for an education system which would produce a compliant working class unable to think for themselves along the lines later adopted by Nazi Germany and the Soviets; prior to that, public schools drilled and pounded facts into students' heads with the result that students were able to draw upon those facts later in life and make their own decisions and start their own businesses. They could and did read the classics and could tell you what 8 times 9 was, from memory.

Business began "partnering" with schools in order to feather their own nests. In addition to the contractors who have inflicted worthless Taj Mahal high schools on our landscape, others were curriculum shills pushing crappy products, unproven programs such as fuzzy math and whole-word reading instruction.

The federal government began dumping huge unsupervised revenue streams on local public schools as a means of pushing social reform (eRate, NCLB, Reading First). The lack of supervision of these monies guaranteed a steep upward spike in corruption.

With God and the classics removed from American classrooms, the stage was set for a consumer-driven culture of senseless greed. We now have college graduates who were stupid enough to fall for adjustable rate mortgages and who worse can't tell you why they voted as they did in the presidential election earlier this month.

If you haven't read it, here's Marc Tucker's "Dear Hillary" letter dated November 11, 1992. Look for: Marc's suggestions for enforcing a new "training levy" for businesses, national exams and national standards.

*How you fry a frog: Lure him into a pan with bait, add lard, then turn up the heat so gradually he doesn't realize what's happening to him until it's too late."

Please be sure to view all the other great information on Peyton Wolcott's site. Peyton said that she has been working on the site for two years I could have sworn I have known her longer than that, but I digress.


Bill O'Reilly Drives Me Crazy.

I use to be a huge fan of Bill O'Reilly and I loved his book Culture Warrior. When we had television I loved to watch him and I also listen to his radio show. Lately I just can't handle the man, I had to turn the radio off today. Again today he said how he did not see the economic downturn coming, the problems with the housing market and the financing of said houses. I bought my first home in 1997 I am now in my fifth home since that time. Three of my homes were condos, two in Chicago and one in the suburbs. Time and time again I saw people and friends buy homes they really could not afford. I have a friend in the mortgage business, she over the years told me of the numerous loan schemes available. Anyone reading a paper, listening to the television or radio, read or heard often about outrageous loan deals.

President Bush called for GSE reform publicly at least 17 times in 2008, he also called for reform as far back as 2001. A man in Mr. O'Reilly's position must have had his head in the sand over the last eight years not to notice that we were headed to the current crisis. Even prime time television has made mention of the current mortgage mess. Boston Legal aired an episode on December 18th, 2007 called Green Christmas forecasting the current collapse of the mortgage industry.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Students lie, cheat, steal, but say they're good

The following report appeared on It is no wonder dishonesty and lack of remorse is on the rise. Students spend 12 years (14 years if you count kindergarten and preschool) with teachers and educrats who refuse to be accountable for the job for which they are paid. Further in New Hampshire our legislators have said, "The duty to provide the opportunity for an adequate education does not make the school a guarantor of educational performance, which is based on many factors outside the school's control," the draft says. "The school is only required to provide the opportunity for an adequate education."

The Unions also spend numerous hours conniving school boards into obscene contracts that pay teachers larger sums of money with less and less work with each new contract.

Students lie,. cheat, steal, but say they're good
Sunday, November 30, 2008
By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer

In the past year, 30 percent of U.S. high school students have stolen from a store and 64 percent have cheated on a test, according to a new, large-scale survey suggesting that Americans are too apathetic about ethical standards.

To view the rest of the report go to or view the report at The Josephson Institute.