Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Home schoolers: Get ready to lead!

"It's simple. We're just changing the world."

Home school parents teach their students to be leaders, to act, to be involved, to know their Ameican history, to participate in American government, and to be ready to lead in all areas of life.

California home schoolers have come under attack from the government which recently ruled that parents had to have teacher certificates to be able to educate their children at home. With an estimated 200,000 home school families in California, that would dump an unmanageable number of new students into an overburdened public school system.

Dr. Jeff Myers has been a leader in the home schooling community for years. He has written a comprehensive article about the California ruling that is informative and eye-opening.
What the recent California attack on homeschooling means to you and me:


Last week I visited with Mike Farris, Homeschool Legal Defense Association founder. When I asked how he was doing, he replied morosely, "Pretty good considering that an appeals court in California just said that parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children."

I listened in shock as he described the ruling and realized immediately that this is a battle that needs to be enjoined by all concerned Christians. Why and how? That's what this issue of Get Ready to Lead is all about.

What is the future of educational freedom?

On Feb. 28, Judge H. Walter Croskey of the Second District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles said that home schooling is only legal if the teaching parent is a certified teacher. This would disenfranchise virtually all of the estimated 175,000 home schooled children in the state.

I asked Brad Dacus, the attorney for the Sunland Christian School (the umbrella school at the center of the controversy) about the ruling. "This is not a slam dunk on statutory grounds," he warned. Translation: California homeschoolers are in for a fight, and the outcome is not assured.

Even socially liberal California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed grave concern in his support for home school families: "Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children's education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts don't protect parents' rights then, as elected officials, we will."

The Truth About Homeschooling

On the other side of the issue, California teachers unions seemed almost gleeful about the ruling. A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times that he agrees with it: "What's best for a child is to be taught by a credentialed teacher."

This is an outright lie. In a published study called Strengths of Their Own Dr. Brian Ray revealed data on 5,402 children from 1,657 families from across the United States. He found that home schooled children performed substantially above the national average in academic testing. The students scored, on the average, at the following percentiles on standardized achievement tests:
(a) total reading, 87th,
(b) total language, 80th,
(c) total math, 82nd,
(d) total listening, 85th,
(e) science, 84th,
(f) social studies, 85th,
(g) study skills, 81st,
(h) basic battery (typically, reading, language, and mathematics), 85th, and
(i) complete battery (all subject areas in which student was tested), 87th.
(Note: The average score on standardized tests for the norm group, largely conventional school students, in all of the preceding categories is the 50th percentile).

Dr. Ray also studied 12 variables that he thought might explain the variance in students' test scores. The following seven variables were found to have no statistically significant effect on the variance between the scores:
(1) father's [teacher] certification status,
(2) mother's [teacher] certification status,
(3) family income,
(4) money spent on home education,
(5) legal status of family,
(6) time spent in formal educational activities, and
(7) age at which began formal education.
In other words, most homeschool kids are doing great, and it has nothing to do with whether either parent is certified to teach.

Why This Issue Matters to You and Me

I realize that this newsletter goes out to people who've made all kinds of educational choices, from home schooling to Christian schooling to public schooling.

If you don't home school your first inclination may be to ignore the issue. This would be unwise. If parents lose the right to home school their children, who is to say that our right to teach anything at all to our children -- especially our values -- is secure?

More immediately, all Americans should be deeply disturbed at how far behind American children are. We ought to be embracing trends like home schooling and private Christian schools that have such a dramatic positive effect on education.

Families in China, India and many developing countries are leaving Americans in the dust to the point that if present trends continue Americans will be the unskilled workers of the world within a generation. Don't believe it? Check out this chilling video on the Christian School Journal blog.

Those who are interested in passing the baton of godly faithfulness to the next generation are right to defending homeschooling, and to be deeply concerned about the quality of education in America.

Three things you can do right now:

1. Buy the Home Schooling: Pointing the Way to a Better Education DVD immediately and show it to everyone you can--skeptics and allies alike.

The video is hosted by Del Tackett (from Focus on the Family's Truth Project) and features interviews with home school experts such as Brian Ray, Mike Farris, Gregg Harris, Chris Klicka and Inge Cannon. It explodes the myths about home education and shows how homeschooling can help children become diligent, thoughtful and socially adept.

I spoke with the video producer yesterday evening and he agreed to give our subscribers free shipping and handling on the DVD. Just enter the code jmyers2008 when you get to the "confirm order" page. Click here to order.

2. Sign the HSLDA petition and encourage your friends to do the same.

The Home School Legal Defense Association is going to petition the Supreme Court of California to "depublish" the Appeals Court opinion. If the opinion is "depublished" then it cannot be used by other California courts and this threat to home school freedom will be neutralized for other California home schoolers. Click here to sign.

3. Get the facts from NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute). My friend Dr. Brian Ray has published volumes of research about the academic achievement and positive socialization value of home schooling, as well as the high level of success homeschool graduates have experienced in the "real world." Much of the research is free, though I strongly recommend you purchase the Worldwide Guide to Home Schooling.

From Jeff Myers: "Get Ready to Lead" isn't just a slogan. It's an imperative.

Every day media reports reinforce the urgency of preparing the next generation of godly leaders. In less than a month we'll be holding one of our Wisdom Trek conferences to prepare leader developers for this great cause.

We still have a handfull of $350 scholarships remaining for our April 9-11 at Sandy Cove Conference Center in Maryland. This takes the cost for a double-occupancy package down from $639 to $289, including tuition, room, meals and coaching.

These scholarships are for people who have a leadership role in an organizations such as a church, school or co-op. To get the special registration form e-mail Sean Bevier here. Questions? Call Wolfgang Seibler at 423-570-1000 ext. 1.

Jeff Myers, Ph.D., President
Passing the Baton International, Inc.

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