Thursday, March 13, 2008

Liberal Fruit

If, as a parent, you decided you wanted to exercise your right to take your kids to an R-rated movie, you could do that. If you decided to sign them up to participate in a gay pride parade, or take them to a theme park on "gay day", give them permission to get a tattoo, or a piercing, you could do all that too. You could start buying them birth control at age 13 and let hormones take their course. You can even pick any religion you want, and raise them up with those beliefs - or - have no religion at all. In the US and Canada we still live in a time and a place where as parents, we have certain rights and freedoms when it comes to the way we raise our kids, the things we let them participate in, and the places we can go. Regardless of the examples given above, that's actually a very good thing and we should all be very thankful for that, since parental rights and freedoms are not enjoyed by parents around the world, the way they are here at home.

If you decided on any of those things above, the vast majority of society would have no issue whatsoever with your parental decisions. Mainstream society would have you be just as liberal as you care to be, and that's perfectly acceptable with them.

What mainstream society is not so accepting of, is an evangelical Christian parent who make the choice to homeschool their child(ren). Once you've made that choice, this is the kind of thing said about you:

(In reference to the recent court decision in the state of CA)

"The decision has caused anguish among families who fear that they may now be required to demonstrate that home schooling is an adequate replacement for their children's attendance at a public institution. The court's decision means that home schoolers must be given some substantive instruction in social studies and not simply spend their time watching Fox with its strange assortment of oddballs pontificating on current events...

If home schooling forums on the Web are indicative of the views held by parents of learn-at-home kids, their offspring are getting an extremely warped lesson in civics...

It's evident that the vast majority who teach their offspring in front of the television do so because they don't want their children to be subjected to such dangerous doctrines as evolution, abortion, global warming, equal rights and other ideas abhorrent to the evangelical mantra..." (source)

Isn't that great? Where shall we start, hmm?

How about we start with the idea that the two brilliant men Walter and Ralph that wrote this piece, have the impression that homeschooling parents park their kids in front of FOX news for social studies? In the first place, I can only guess that this was a shot at Bill O'Reilly who takes shots like this all the time. I'll leave that there, O'Reilly can handle that just fine.

What struck me as so ironic about this though, was the memory of being in grade school and being required by my public school teachers at least once a week, to watch the evening news and read the local paper and do a report for social studies class. As a part of the social studies program, us public schooled kids were required to not only know the history that made our current system what it is (we used real, hold-em-in-yer-hand-books), but to keep informed of current events as well. Is there something wrong with that? Well, Walter and Ralph would have you think there is - and have you think that this is how homeschoolers exclusively teach their kids. Truth is, it IS in part, how folks of all ages learn every day - whether homeschooled, public schooled, in the work force or retired. Books, newspapers, radio, television, and even (gasp!) parent/child conversations, are what make up our particular "social studies".

That second quote is a gem. What they really meant to say was "If home schooling forums on the Web are indicative of the views held by parents of learn-at-home kids, their offspring are getting an extremely valuable lesson in civics, when they're able to witness firsthand how the right to free speech includes both reasonable, impassioned opinion, and liberals with an agenda". Yep, that's what they really meant to say, I'm sure of it.

That last quote however, is the real meat of the resistance, and interestingly enough, Walter and Ralph got it right! Well, sort of.

I can't speak for all evangelical homeschooling parents, so I will only speak for myself on this one. Part of the reason we homeschool is because we want to make sure our kids have a solid, Biblical worldview as their foundation. We don't want them learning one thing at home and in church, and then having a conflict of authority in their lives (public school teachers & administrators) telling them something completely different. We don't want them to believe the lies of evolution or global warming, we don't want them to believe the lie that abortion is acceptable, and we don't want them to have a perverted view of "equal rights". We don't want this trash pumped into their minds for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 9 months a year from kindergarten through 12th grade, so that it becomes normal or acceptable to them, and clouds their thinking. These are lies, why in the world would we want them indoctrinated with them?

Recently, a friend of my 17 year old asked why we homeschool. My answer was simply this "because we don't want the kids exposed to the garbage that goes on in public schools, from the teachers and the other students that come from morally bankrupt homes". Himself having just finished his highschool years replied "right on! I wish I would have been homeschooled and spared all that trash". He knew exactly what I was talking about - the liberal, anti-God teachings come from the front of the class, and the immoral behavior coming from fellow students, and the pressure to fold and become part of the crowd. Young people get that, they know exactly how it works. For those raised with a Biblical worldview and still attending the public schools, it's like walking into a spiritual battle zone every day. You send warriors and strong soldiers into battle, not children. Children are weak, and easily swayed, and easily fall. Even many adults are just as weak and easily influenced by this kind of spiritual battle.

I'm going to pause here and say this once for all, and for the record. I was once verbally sliced to ribbons (by a fellow believer, and publicly) for daring to believe in the sovereignty of God in all things and then at the same time allegedly imply that He cannot protect our children in the anti-God public school system. I do not believe that children are to be sent out as evangelists to win their schools for Christ (and if anyone does, please support it Biblically), but if they do manage to have some kind of influence for the glory of God, then this is a wonderful thing. Do I believe God can protect the faith of our children (assuming they have a credible profession of faith to begin with, and not just 'assumed' to be Christians because they come from a Christian home) in the battle zone of a public school? YES, I most certainly do. I also believe He can protect them if we send them onto a freeway at rush hour, or drop them into the tiger's den at the zoo but I would certainly never test that, and do it. He expects us as parents to protect them as well, not to send them into situations they simply cannot handle either spiritually, or emotionally. When the time comes that they are ready (and that time is a different age for every kid), then you send them off (public school, highschool, college, etc.) and with Godspeed and daily prayers.

Which brings me to the final quote of Walter and Ralph:
"Moreover, it is apparent from the cries of the far right that there has been a specific policy in home schooling -- to teach only the ideas acceptable to ideologues who fear the contaminating influence of what is commonly known as a liberal education."
These guys are truly brilliant. "Contaminating influence" was a most accurate choice of words. I don't fear it, I detest it and I don't neglect to discuss with my kids and teach why this influence is so destructive.

For the "fruit" of this liberal education, one need not look any further than the headlines in the paper, or your favorite news site online. What mainstream society accepts today as "normal" is also taught in the schools as normal, and that we should all have a tolerance for it, and be accepting of it. One specific 'fruit' would be this statistic just reported in yesterday's news:

"About 1 in 4 teenage girls in the United States - and nearly half of black girls - has at least one sexually transmitted disease, according to a study released yesterday, providing the first national snapshot of infection rates among this age group." (source)
This story from the Boston Globe goes on to explain in a bit more detail, the dynamics of this study:

"The study's authors analyzed data on 838 girls between ages 14 and 19 who participated in the 2003-04 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, an annual study that assesses a broad range of health issues. For the analysis, the teens were tested for human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and herpes. By far, the most common sexually transmitted disease was HPV. Of those infected, 15 percent had more than one STD."
Dr. Sara Forhan, a researcher with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the study's lead author found the results "alarming" and said it was "critical information for parents" - encouraging them to screen their daughters and teach them about protection and disease prevention.

Keeping this in mind, here are some questions to really think about:

• Out of those 838 girls between 14 and 19, how many are professing Christians, or come from Christian homes?
• How many attended public school?
• How many were homeschooled?
• What do the public schools teach our young men and young women about sex?
Is it working?

I agree that the results of this study are alarming. I agree they should be a wake up call to parents, in more ways than one.