Hug Your Kid Today Or Else!
The Washington Post's Foreign Service recently featured a report that the German government was considering legislation to encourage families to “inject some love and affection into German society.” The goal is to change German attitudes toward children, and the new law would make it a civil violation “to spank, pester or unduly frighten a child.”
Uncertainty about the future and the current German preoccupation with the pursuit of personal pleasure is cited as the primary force motivating German antipathy toward child rearing. The article claims that “a solid 60 percent of German couples either stop after having one child or decide to remain childless, leaving the country with a birth rate that does not come close to replenishing the current population” in spite of the fact that Germany pays parents a child-rearing bonus of $520/month for a baby's first 18 months of life.
It is against German law for children to make loud noises in the afternoon on the weekends, making outside play very difficult. Restaurants often allow patrons to bring their pets inside, but not their children. This is a land where children should be neither seen nor heard, and the government is experiencing a real challenge in motivating people to offer the same respect and good will to a child as a dog or cat would get.
Home schooling is also "verboten" in Germany. HSLDA has received several requests for help in defending parental rights to train a child at home in this newly unified land. Situations like these give us a new sense of appreciation for the blessings God has provided to us in the United States, where we are still able to follow the dictates of our heart in determining our family size and means of education and child rearing.
College Admission Policy Re: Pell Grants Clarified for Home School Graduates
After some home school graduates complained that the college they wanted to attend refused them admission rather than jeopardize its standing in the Pell Grant program, a National Center investigation yielded the following information. The Pell Grant program offers government-guaranteed loans to college students. To participate in the program a college must agree to admit only those students who are bona fide high school graduates.
The home school families raising the questions were not seeking the loans, but the college responding to them was concerned about its ability to remain in the Pell Grant program to help other students. Thus, the college did not want to take the risk of appearing to have "relaxed" admissions policies.
The following statement is the official policy governing this matter:
To participate as an eligible institution in the Pell Grant or campus-based programs authorized by Title IV of the High Education Act, a private nonprofit institution may admit as regular students only person who—
- Have a high school diploma; or
- Have the recognized equivalent of a high school diploma (either a GED certificate or a State certificate which that State recognizes as the equivalent of a high school diploma); or
- Are beyond the age of compulsory school attendance in the State in which the institution is located and have the ABILITY TO BENEFIT from the training offered.
A student who has been admitted under the ABILITY TO BENEFIT provisions must either—
- Receive a GED by the end of the first year of the course of study, or
- Be counseled prior to admissions and be enrolled in and successfully complete the institution's remedial or developmental program; or
- Be administered a nationally recognized standardized or industry developed test.
It seems that the best solution, then, for home school graduates who wish to be enrolled in colleges that are anxious about their affiliation with the Pell Grant program, is to take the GED to satisfy college entrance requirements. Personal contact with the institution of higher learning your family is considering is recommended as you work through these decisions.
4-H Clubs Join "Diversity 'Bandwagon'"
When a home school state organization notified the National Center office that some 4-H groups in their area had received notice of the newly clarified “Emphasis on Diversity” policy fostered by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, we immediately called to obtain a copy. The bulletin circulated to the 4-H group was entitled, “Diversity: The Cutting Edge.”
The following background was provided:
In October 1990, ECOP and ESUSDA established the "Emphasis on Diversity in the Cooperative Extension System." It is a commitment to achieving and sustaining pluralism at all levels and in every segment within the organization, its staff, programs, audiences, and stakeholders.
During the past year a national taskforce developed a draft strategic plan for diversity in the Cooperative Extension System. Representative Extension staff from all states critiqued the plan during the National Diversity Planning Conference held in Denver, Colorado, September 3-6, 1991. The final plan will be shared with state Extension directors very soon.
Diversity, as defined by the Cooperative Extension System, recognizes and values differences among people with respect to age, class, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities, race, sexual orientation, spiritual practices, and other perceived differences. Diversity addresses representation of differences, power and influence, prejudice, and discrimination. Valuing diversity promotes mutual respect, acceptance, teamwork, and productivity, within the Cooperative Extension System, its workforces, programs, audiences, and stakeholders.
Pluralism, as used in the strategic plan, is defined as a culture that promotes mutual respect, acceptance, teamwork and productivity among people who are diverse in age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, class, religious beliefs, physical abilities and other perceived differences.
Five goals are cited in the strategic plan to accomplish diversity:
- Articulate pluralism as part of Extension's mission and affirm its support and commitment to achieving and sustaining diversity.
- Increase and sustain the diversity of Extension's workforce to better reflect diversity throughout the Nation.
- Expand the diversity of CES audiences to better reflect the population of the nation, states, and territories.
- Establish an environment that creates, fosters, and sustains diversity.
- Include members of diverse groups as full and influential participants in all aspects of CES.
Obviously, local chapters of 4-H will be affected to varying degrees by this directive. Our concern is that many home-schooling families participate in 4-H activities throughout our country. It is possible that the diversity emphasis cited here will begin to crop up in the leadership of various clubs and programs. Diversity emphases usually require active recruitment of the elements which will make learning tolerance possible. Please keep us informed as you become aware of similar announcements in your area or note any negative developments which result from this policy.
Another Good Reason to Stay Home: SIECUS Proposes More "Sex Ed" in Schools
Both Education Week (October 23, 1991) and Education Daily (October 17, 1991) reported that new guidelines for school-based sex education have been developed by the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States. The really frightening aspect of the report is the quote from the executive director of SIECUS, Debra W. Haffner, that "These guidelines are based on the assumption that sexuality education is not simply about sexual reproduction and anatomy." Responding to national polls which showed that 90 percent of parents want schools to discuss sex education, the national agency proposed several required discussions about values and sensitive issues.
Reporter Ellen Flax summarizes the guidelines as calling for early elementary children to “learn the names of the reproductive organs, that masturbation should be done in a private place, that they should turn to their families for love and support, and that people have different values and life styles that should be respected.”
Late elementary school children should “learn about different sexual orientations, basic biological information about sexual reproduction, how puberty will affect their bodies, and that sexual intercourse is not for children.”
Junior high students “should learn that people do not choose their sexual orientation, that people their age are 'usually not mature enough for a sexual relationship that includes intercourse,' and that some teenagers choose not to date, which is all right.” Contraception is taught at this level along with information about the adolescent's access to abortion in their state.
It is recommended that high school students be told that “most people enjoy giving and receiving pleasure, that sexual intercourse is not a way to achieve adulthood, and that many sexual activities can be performed without fear of getting AIDS.”
Charmaine Yoest, a policy analyst for Family Research Council, is quoted as responding, “To teach teens that mutual masturbation is better than intercourse is a questionable enterprise from an emotional point of view.” To this we add, give us parents who will teach their children right and wrong, and let them be free to do according to the dictates of their heart and conscience.
Errors in Textbooks Undermine Confidence of Educators
While government agencies debate the innuendos of sensitivity training children must receive in schools, evidence of errors in history books makes parents wonder why children should attend school at all. Editorial reports from several sources indicate that 3700 factual errors, many of them glaring, were found in only four secular history textbooks during recent adoption hearings in Texas. One Texas newspaper commented, &ldqquo;With history written like this, Texas children may as well skip school and get a job…” To achieve excellence in education, it may not be enough to teach children at home if the resources we use are fraught with error. The “dumbing down” of content coupled with the seeming goal of rewriting our interpretation of history could strengthen the motivation of federal legislators to call for a national curriculum and encourage parents to accept the plan. We must take care not to fall into the trap that more “bureaucracy” fixes problems like these. Personal responsibility for error is crucial, and refusal to purchase defective texts will force publishers to take that responsibility.
Rewriting Columbus' Story: A Quincentennial Celebration?
Many newspaper and magazine articles are featuring the 500-year anniversary of Christopher Columbus' discovery of the New World as an opportunity to question society's “political correctness” in honoring a person who desecrated the Native American population.
Accusations that it is Mr. Columbus whom we can thank for bringing slavery to our continent and that the Native American population was reduced 60-70 percent as a result of European conquests should make any compassionate person fearful of supporting our hero of 1492.
The nation's teachers unions and educational bureaucracy are encouraging teachers everywhere to present an “all-sided analysis of the Columbus landing.” Thankfully, as home schoolers we are in the unique position of being able to examine the issues on the basis of absolute values—something the public schools are prohibited from discussing.
Massachusetts Ties Driving Privileges to School Behavior
Taking a new approach to the issue of driver qualifications, Massachusetts recently became the first state legislature to link driving privileges to academic performance. This precedent could become very important for home schoolers, since it provides the possibility of the state's closely monitoring a student's work before granting him/her a driver's license. It would also create problems in “equivalency” requirements, forcing parents to teach content similar to public school curriculum before students can be qualified. Pending bills on this topic need careful monitoring to ensure that home school exemptions are provided.