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Those Darn Tests!

By MoMnmb
We have been homeschooling this year and I finally feel like I have found some basic curriculum that works for us. Because Washington demands testing, we are taking Iowa Basics this week. I feel somewhat defensive about this.
One one hand it is too early in the year to be testing for a whole school years knowledge, and on the other hand I want to see if what I'm teaching is sinking in. But I also feel a little cheated that I am being judged just as I am figuring out what works for us.
What have I found that works for us? I have switched all the kids to Math You See at Gamma, Epsilon, and Pre-Algebra levels. I love the way the concepts are made concrete through use of the manipulative blocks, overlays and inserts. I am finding that it helps me to understand it all better too. I plan on using the new skills to earn extra money tutoring kids while my husband goes to school.
We are also using Instutite for Excellence in Writing's program for writing. It has made my children feel better about doing writing assignments and it offers us ways to teach history and science, and reinforce reading comprehension too. My youngest has picked up on the concepts just by being around the older kids even with out the tasks being assigned to him. This is another subject I would like to use for tutoring.
It seems to make the most difference that we have changed to these methods. The one thing I have not changed is the reading. I have been trying to get the kids to read less of what I call "candy books". Those are the ones that they read in one hour or one afternoon and they never really do any good, except for entertainment. I wanted them to read some stories that challenged them, taught them to love good literature, taught good morals, and made them smarter. Candy books have helped them love to read but have also made them lazy readers.
Ben didnt' like readidng when we began. I didn't push it, but I read to them for the first little while. I read "Summer of the Monkeys" (Wilson Rawls) and they ate it up! It opened their eyes to the fact that Mom can find good books, and that there were good books out there. (I had suggested this book to the older ones who simply scoffed at the idea). After that I bribed Ben to read the Magic Tree House books just to build his confidence and for me to see where his skills actually sat (as opposed to a test that gave me a "level"). Next, I took Laura Ingllas Wilders "Farmer Boy" and read him the first couple chapters. He LOVED it! I began to assign him a reading time everyday for 15 minutes. He soon wanted to read longer so we expanded to 30 minutes. He took along time to read through the book but he thoroughly enjoyed it and realized that reading was FUN! It still wasn't his first choice of how to spend his free time but he liked having the requirement to read. I had him tell me about the things he had read about each day. This was awkward for him at first, and he stumbled on it. But I persisted and he soon got better and began to come to me in the middle of his reading to incredulously tell me the amazing thing he just had read about. After that book, I gave him "The Magic City" by E. Nesbit. (We had previously read aloud from another of her books "The Book of Beasts") He wasn't so sure so I read to him from the book flap and he was hooked. He read for his daily 30 minutes and one night, early in the book, when both of the older kids were gone on a sleep over, I let him stay up and read as long as he wanted. He stayed up past midnight and didn't get sleepy! It was truely amazing! He even came into my room after I had turned off my lights and was almost asleep, just to tell me something exciting! Now he regularly wonders at how people can say reading is boring. He figures they just haven't found the "good books" yet. He always asks them if they have read The Magic City or Farmer Boy.
This transformation has been the greatest payback this year. The second is the exponential increase in his ability to spell. Spelling Workout has introduced spelling and phonics rules to him for the first time. He now recognizes incorrect spellings and whether a word "looks right", because I did not allow him to look at or write misspelled words. The public schools had encouraged him in poor spelling and never corrected them in their writing- for fear that it would discourage them I guess. I've had him doing spelling lessons and also copywork to learn cursive, and to imprint the words correctly in his head. He now asks me how to spell a word if he isn't sure about how to spell it. I love it!
But the damper is that I don't know how well any of this will show on those darn tests!


Nick's stories

Now Nick has a blog to share his school work on. Check it out here.
He has posted the beginning of a long story he has been writing for about a year.


Ben's Brain

Ben and I made a new blog just for him today. He was home sick and we needed something easy and quiet. He wanted to display his schoolwork and especially his writing. (well his narration and my typing) Check it out and leave him a nice comment. He's very excited.

There's (blogger) life out there!

By MoMnmb
So, I've discovered a host of great blogs out there! It all started when a friend introduced me to a site and she had a list of other blogs she liked. That got me hooked and I have been reading blogs all morning (instead of my school work!) I'm addicted and I love it! At some point I'd like to add a list of other blogs out there too! But I have to decide how to narrow it down first!
There are some very talented women out there. One thing I always hated most about leaving communities to go to the next Naval Air Station, was not getting to see my friends families and their children grow up! I thought Id never get to see the kids until I (maybe) got a wedding invitation! Now I can see their whole family blossom. I have been reluctant to share too much information on my blog about my personal life but I love seeing it on others, so I am going to try "getting more personal" from now on. I'm !so !excited! Can! you! tell?!?!


My life in pictures....

By MoMnmb

My Honey! Ain't he handsome????

Ok now I' just going to show off. I got the camera of my dreams last summer and I love the pictures I can take!

The most beautiful place on earth! Whidbey Island!

Brothers in pads! Crash!

Lawn chair football teams!

What Happened to Win-Win Situations?

By MoMnmb
Lately I am tired. Tired of argument all around me. I get it from my TV, my newspaper, my teenagers, even my dog sometimes argues with me.

On the news so called "debate" immediately decends into the ridiculous. Pundits no longer know how to answer a question or point. It's all about talking over the opponent and getting your message repeated as many times as possible. No matter if it is a bald-faced lie, just get it said over and over and over until folks can't help but believe it. And just try to get a letter to the editor published that doesn't tow the PC line. Won't happen....
It's so childish. At least when my dog argues with me we both win. I get him to do as I want, and he gets petted.

What ever happened to honest debate and reason? What ever happened to the win/ win situation?

Take Your Fingers Out of Your Ears

By MoMnmb
I found this video to be very enlightening in explaining in a rational and understandable way what we are really experiencing regarding the trend of global warming. Its long (about 75 min or so) but it is science based and told so as to be understandable and believable. It was quite eye-opening to me. Even if you only watch the first half you will learn far more about the issue than the media tells us in their 8 second stories. (And far more valuable than Hollywood scare movies.)


Curiosity Cured the Kids

No matter what they say, schools don’t care about our kids. No system can care about the individual. And groups are made up of individuals. Evidence of this is all around. The schools don’t care that kids are grossed out by sex and sexual topics so what do they do? Teach them about it against their will. Why? Because it’s good for them. Of course, this is ridiculous. What’s good for them is to be able to learn it when they are ready and they ask, but that is a very individual thing. In a system, we can’t serve individual needs. We must subject all students to the needs of its lowest level. But use any subject. When humans want to learn something there is no stopping them, (just ask communist nations) learning things faster and more thoroughly than any system or teacher could teach it. This threatens the job security of the folks in the industry.
Have a conversation with any school apologist and get the gobbledygook treatment. You will be told that parents aren’t equipped to teach academics, and teachers are. However, take a look at any education certification course requirements and see that what is taught is systems. You won’t see anything that addresses the individual child’s needs. They also do not take classes that serve to make them experts on anything except how to motivate the resentful child sitting in their classroom to test well, so they look good to the jobs system and have bragging rights. All they end up doing is teaching kids how to fool others into thinking they have knowledge, and how to take orders. We are “educating” the individuality and entrepreneurship right out of our upcoming generations.
Again the individual cannot be served in a system. Systems are at heart meant to serve the average or the neediest one of the bunch. Families are meant to serve individuals. Families therefore threaten the system. If families can do the job better, why don’t we use them? Well I don’t think it’s all the fault of the schools, after all if parents would not let them take their kids we wouldn’t have a school system. Many parents, products of this same type of education, like getting rid of their kids everyday for the majority of the day, and many even complain that school isn’t long enough because they haven’t gotten home from work yet. They want school to be synonymous with daycare.
But recently many parents are opting out of this system. Home school has been a huge success and puts the public school system to shame. Will the schools change? I don’t think they can. I think families must change. Parents must demand that they are in charge of the education of their children. Government is not better than us. It isn’t easy. It takes time, effort, and even some money (although not nearly as much as the government wastes!). It is a blood, sweat and tears endeavor. Whatever we use to educate our kids, and there is an overwhelming amount of choices out there, we need to be in charge. And at some point kids need to take responsibility for their own education. Parents can’t force the kids to learn any more than the schools can. But I think that kids will be far more eager to learn if they were never subjected to schools in the first place. They certainly would be more curious.


Breeding Crime

By MoMnmb
Another paper I wrote for State and Local Government class, suprise, suprise, it leads to families again!

Breeding Crime
Today, state and local governments are swamped with crime and its far-reaching consequences. These entities bear the majority of the burden of criminal activity. The costs are not always measurable. American families living in cities and counties pay for criminal behaviors in many ways, from taxes, and fear, to heartache. Although it is rarely discussed, healthy marriages and families are the antidote to a large portion of these problems.
The responsibility of state and local governments in punishing criminals is a heavy one. They were never intended to address the size of the problems we encounter today. Ann Bowman and Richard Kearney explain, “criminal justice is overwhelmingly a state and local government responsibility.” (479). State and local expenses total more than $110 billion and employ 1.6 million people. These numbers are staggering, and local governments are responsible for about 60% of this burden (457). Local governments are responsible for funding and staffing of local police departments, jails, courts, probation offices, investigators, social workers and emergency services. These services are very expensive causing taxes and fees on citizens to be continually increased.
Crime is a continual challenge for governments because new criminals are introduced in each successively larger generation about the time that some of the previous generation of criminals have settled down or been locked up. The rise of new opportunities, as well as social problems such as the breakup of the natural family, has led to a continual increase in criminal activity. Crime also continually evolves as laws change and criminals attempt to block our efforts to stop them. In a free and open society, citizens are free to make choices about their actions predictably creating more opportunity for criminal activity than a closed, oppressed society will offer. Free citizens must be ever watchful for new criminal activity. We lock our homes and cars, we protect our financial information, and we are nervous after dark.
As harsh, swift punishments have decreased, criminals have had less incentive to obey laws. Prisons are not as uncomfortable as they were in earlier years, becoming like the parents of a young child. They provide a bed, healthy meals, sometimes jobs and even educational opportunities for criminals, free of charge in most cases, although also strictly regulating outside contact, opportunities for outdoor activity, personal possessions, and potentially harmful activities. Prison sentences can sometimes offer an easier and healthier lifestyle to its residents than they would have been able to achieve outside of prison. Prisons have also been accused of accidentally educating criminals in more effective criminal behaviors, as if it were a long-lasting criminal convention. In short, prisons are quite useless as a solution to the problem of stopping new criminal behavior. However prisons, which remove lawless elements from society, are essential in any community that produces criminals, in order to provide for the safety of its law abiding citizens.
As the police and court systems have struggled to absorb this ever increasing burden, punishments and consequences are inevitably postponed. Crime has also become harder to investigate despite new technologies and especially as a result of more laws regulating police and investigators. Prosecutions have become more difficult. Criminal investigations and prosecutions will sometimes languish for years before they can be finally resolved.
In the last century the number of single parent families has risen sharply, creating a breeding ground for criminal behavior. An increase in children, abandoned by fathers being parented by exhausted, stressed-out single mothers has resulted in many of them turning to lawless behavior. Michael Tanner, Director of Health and Welfare Studies, testifying before the Senate explained, “Children from single-parent families are more likely to become involved in criminal activity. According to one study, children raised in single-parent families are one-third more likely to exhibit anti-social behavior.” He goes on to defend this statement by quoting Barbara Defoe,
“The relationship [between single-parent families and crime] is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. This conclusion shows up time and again... The nation's mayors, as well as police officers, social workers, probation officers, and court officials, consistently point to family break up as the most important source of rising rates of crime”.
Jennifer Morse, a researcher at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, found that healthy intact families are the laboratory for developing “the basic self-control and reciprocity that a free society takes for granted.” She goes on to wisely point out that children “need to develop self-control so they can … do the right thing even if it might benefit them to do otherwise.” Vitally important concepts and crucial habits are taught in these well functioning families. A stable, healthy, two-parent family is indispensable in children’s developmental process.
Fathers married and caring for their children’s mothers are the fundamental solution to a significant portion of the crime in America. Studies have shown that “over the past thirty years, the rise in violent crime parallels the rise in families abandoned by fathers.”(Fagan). The Heritage Foundation has found that “high-crime neighborhoods are characterized by high concentrations of families abandoned by fathers. The rate of violent teenage crime corresponds with the number of families abandoned by fathers.” Indeed, they found that “a 10 percent increase in the percentage of children living in single-parent homes leads typically to a 17 percent increase in juvenile crime.” Incredibly, as early as 1829, researchers established “that family disintegration resulting from the death, desertion, or divorce of parents led to undisciplined children who eventually became criminals.” (Fagan). Yet for years Americans have ignorantly refused to discuss this fact in deference to misplaced tolerance and compassion.
Contrary to what many girls are taught by modern feminists, having happy, well cared for mothers in the home watching over children’s tendencies and guiding them to good habits and character will greatly benefit society as they help train and love their children lessening criminality and creating well-adjusted future citizens. Stable, attentive parents lovingly administering swift and certain discipline will train children to discipline themselves, understand consequences, and who will be more likely to appreciate law abiding behavior. If not taught these things, “society will have to manage his behavior in some other way. He may have to be rehabilitated, incarcerated, or otherwise restrained. In this case, prisons will substitute for parents.” (Morse).
Broken families don’t just affect their unhappy children. Marriage and family has an important civilizing influence on men too. “Unwed fathers are more likely to use drugs and become involved in criminal behavior. Indeed, single men are five times more likely to commit violent crimes than married men” (Tanner). Men need the loving bond and heavy responsibilities of providing for their children and wives in order to adequately control their own violent tendencies.
Healthy marriages between a man and a woman seem to be an indicator of a safe society. When marriages fail, society pays the price in higher taxes, crime rates, drug and alcohol addictions, abuse of women and children, poor educational outcomes, and unhappiness in general. The heavy burdens on state and local government and its agencies are increased. There is no government program that can adequately replace a healthy and functioning family. If America wants to lower its crime rate it seems reasonable that this significant source, single parent families, should be discussed. Often in an effort to avoid burdening these struggling families, Americans avoid meaningful discussions of this very considerable cause of criminal behavior. If we continue to throw money at the criminal justice system while ignoring the family’s contribution to this societal ill, we will never escape the swamp of crime and its far-reaching consequences. America will never solve the problems and instead will be forced to regulate and tax citizens into oppression, all the while living in continual fear and not-so blissful ignorance of our own contributions to our self-made misery.

Works Cited

Bowman, Ann and Richard Kearney. State and Local Government. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.

Tanner, Michael. Cato Instiutite. “Congressional Testimony.” 7 June 1995. Accessed 12 Feb 2007.

Morse, Jennifer Roback. Hoover Institution. “Parents or Prisons.” August and September 2003.Stanford University. Accessed 15 Feb 2007.

Fagan,Patrick. The Heritage Foundation. “The Real Root Causes of Violent Crime: The Breakdown of Marriage, Family, and Community.” 17 March 1995. Accessed 15 Feb 2007.

Recognize and Resolve

By MoMnmb
A paper I wrote for my State and Local Government class:
Education in America
Millions of American children get up in the morning, rush through a quick breakfast, get dressed, and strapped down with a sometimes very heavy backpack, and sent out the door to school. Millions of them also come home with the same heavily loaded pack and sit up to the dining room table to work on homework that their parents are unable to understand. A family is a child’s best asset when it comes to his education, but American children spend the majority of their day separated from this important asset. American parents too heavily involved in pursuing careers, are abdicating the best opportunity they have of providing an education. Educational institutions have so forcefully asserted their supremacy in the arena of education that many Americans now narrowly believe only formal education is valuable.
Because of this new narrow mentality Americans feel like they are unqualified to educate their children, expecting schools and professionals to perform the magic. Convinced they need the public school system, they pay taxes in order to achieve education. Nameless others spend the money, set the timetables and priorities, create the lessons, instruct, supervise, grade and decide who is now educated, leaving parents completely left out of the equation. It is almost impossible in a system such as this for a parent to be any more than passively involved in their child’s education. As a result of this family separation and new freedom from responsibility that schools provide to parents, the majority of Americans now blame our schools for continually lower education outcomes.
Some parents persevere in trying to partner with their children’s schools and are managing to limp in the direction of directing the public education of their children. But most settle for submitting to the authority of an education establishment that aggressively asserts its own superiority over families. No longer do observant experienced parents tell schools how to reach their particular child. Instead schools now educate parents on how to be good attentive parents in tune with their children’s education. We have an institutional reversal. Thousands of years of parenting, are now being subjected to the latest whims and limited experience of our educational intuitions and its professionals.
Some parents, preferring to chase their own goals, simply like the convenience of handing their children off to schools and letting them assume the responsibility for the whole educational affair. In this way, many American parents abdicate the important responsibility of education. The result of separating parents from children is that they no longer have access to the learning that their children do everyday and they are easy prey for the assumption that they cannot teach their own children.
Allowing schools to be run by governments has exposed them to the chronic inefficiency that accompanies anything done by governments. Policies are tossed around like political footballs. Unsuitable and unqualified teachers are never sent away. Curious and intelligent children are diagnosed, drugged, verbally abused, bullied, and even molested by these professional educators. School retirement has become an entitlement.
In recent years social issue advocates have found fertile minds in children separated from parental influence. Controversial issues are decided by policy makers and are then presented to gullible children as if they are fact. These issues range from moral issues such as human sexual practices and multiculturalism, to theories like evolution and climate change. Public schools have become like the halls of Congress; full of adult political agendas.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 sought to address the failing academic achievement in public education. It imposed testing requirements on all schools to track the performance of schools. It allows parents the opportunity to get out of failing school systems, using that school’s money to fund better alternatives. The legislation has come under heavy criticism from many groups, some opposed to any alternative, some enjoying the security of the status quo, and others opposed to losing their influence on young minds.
The most useful and praiseworthy aspect of this bill it that is recognizes parents supremacy and responsibility in children’s education. By setting up a way for interested parents to receive the means to take their children elsewhere and by empowering them to make those decisions, the federal government has forced state and local governments to recognize parental rights (Bush).
Some parents are already choosing to accept responsibility for the education of their children despite negative social assumptions. Parents have been fighting for the right to completely educate their children outside of public schools. The movement is referred to as home-schooling. All fifty states have passed laws allowing parents to completely remove their children from public schools. In the 2000-2001 school year 250,000 – 340,000 high school students were home-schooled (HSLDA). Parents plan personalized priorities, lesson plans, activities, and trips. There are as many ways of doing this as there are children. Parents who know the child best are supremely qualified about what methods and subjects are best suited for each child. An additional benefit of this movement is that parents are finding that dormant skills need improving and they end up relearning with their children also creating a more educated adult population.
Since the explosion of information sharing via the Internet, resources available to parents are everywhere, whether a parent does full home-schooling or supplements public schooling. The home-schooling movement has shown impressive results in recent years. Many colleges are actively seeking students who have been home-schooled. Regina Morin, admissions director of Columbia College says, “Home-schooled students, whose numbers in this country range from an estimated 1.1 million to as high as 2 million, often come to college equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in higher education” (Zagier). Some states are even providing limited funding and creating partnerships for these families.
In order for our educational problems to improve, parents must first accept responsibility for the education of their children. Once that is done, local school boards and superintendents need to be more respectful of this fact. Parents must be given options to make unique opportunities available to their unique children. Some system of public schooling that provides basic education is needed; however the burden needs to shift to parents. Society must recognize that public schools are nothing more than a tool for parents. Local school boards need to understand that they are not the authority on children. No matter how educated and experienced they are, school boards will never know the specific needs of each individual child.
If the public must be taxed in the name of education for all children, then children who are not part of the public system need to share in the same funding public school children receive. Funds needs to be provided for whatever choice the parents decide for their children, whether it is private religious instruction, homeschooling, or private non-religious education. Another aid for proactive parents would be a home education tax credit for parents who do not use the public school system for their children. Government must drop its arrogant assertions that it knows best and begin to show more respect for families outside the public school system. PTA’s and other parent teacher partnerships need to be more than the fundraising wing of the schools. They need to be involved in making important decisions. All levels of government and society need to recognize and promote traditional families as the ideal situation for children and the unique benefits that a mother and a father offer to their children. Society needs to be more accepting of non-employed women who want to be mothers first.
Once parents recognize the potential they hold for the future of their children, they can begin to assert themselves into the decisions and culture of public schools and they can demand the freedom to educate their children in whatever way suits them best. The hard part is that they must first recognize that they can do it and then resolve to do it.

Works Cited

Home School Legal Defense Association. “Frequently Asked Questions.” January 25, 2007. .
Bush, George. The White House. “No Child Left Behind: Title IV Overview”. January 25, 2007. .
Zagier, Alanscher. “Colleges Coveting Home-Schooled Students.” Sept. 30, 2006. CBS News. January 25, 2007
national/main D8KF1LRG0.shtml.
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