Letters – Letter to the Editor

You’re Welcome!

I so enjoy every issue. Sometimes PRACTICAL HOMESCHOOLING is the difference between a relatively sane day and total chaos!

Jacqueline Pugh, Fayette, AL

I just wanted to say thank you to Mary Pride for the nice job she did in the Nov/Dec issue of Practical Home Schooling. I am responding to parents as a result of the article. They are so appreciative. Most had no idea they could continue “home learning” at the college level.

Julie Jantzi, Christian University

GlobalNet, Salem, OR

Thank you very much for recognizing the columnist Ken Ham. I have enjoyed his Creation Ex Nihilo magazine for years and was delighted to see his article appear in your magazine as well. I respect Ken’s message for the fact that he stands up for what he believes in, with no nonsense tolerated when it goes against the Word of God. Ken’s magazine has increased my faith in God–even destroying the anti-God ideas that I received in my public education. I use his magazine for my homeschool science lessons.

Also, thanks for the article on prayer and knowing Jesus for the real person he is, instead of the distant person as we usually view him. Your article made me look at the funny side of how ritualistic I can be if I follow the program instead of my heart. Thanks for reminding me what I should be doing in worshipping God. I think we can all use a reminder now and then.

Denese Brown, via email

Body for Life

Hi! My name is Jolene Barker. I am 12 years old. I love your magazine. I really like A Day At Our House. We keep each new issue in our bathroom. Tonight I was thumbing through the January/February issue, and I was disappointed to find, on pages 50-51, a picture of a book that is called Body for Life. On the bottom of the picture are small pictures of people that are not dressed very well.

Will you please consider not advertising this book where anyone can see it, but thank you for not putting it out in the open.

Jolene Barker

We certainly do applaud the fact that many PHS readers have a high standard of modesty, Jolene. After some discussion, we felt that the small swimsuit pictures Jolene referred to, which are no worse than you can see at any public swimming pool and which clearly demonstrate the amazing physical changes many have made as a result of the Body-for-Life program, were important to prove the article’s point.

If any reader is offended by the book photo that accompanied this article, we suggest taking a sticker and covering it.

By the way, I’ve lost another 8 pounds since writing that article!

Next issue we’ll continue the “Body Power” series with tips on equipment.

High School at Home

I am a 14-year-old homeschooler, just now looking into high-school options at home. It is very helpful to have old issues of yours on that subject! I am wondering if you, in future issues, could include some high school at home tips for us rookies out here! That would be a great help!

Thanks for the excellent magazine!

Clarissa Waineo, Howell, MI

Send in your questions and I’ll see what I can do, Clarissa! In the meantime, the Junior High through College volume of my Big Book of Home Learning has tons of those options you’re looking for. See the ad on page 46.

Socialism in Schools

I received my PHS in the mail today. I remembered a quote from John Robbins of the Trinity Foundation:

“As a nation we spend more than $600 billion a year on education, and most of that is spent by government … All this government activity is illegitimate and immoral, and most, if not all, is harmful. It is all illegitimate because government has only one legitimate function: the punishment of evildoers, as Paul put it in Romans 13. Any monies taken by government for other purposes are stolen. The Eighth Commandment–You shall not steal–applies to rulers as rulers, just as surely as it applies to ordinary citizens. The harm caused by government ownership and control of educational institutions, as well as its intervention in the small remaining private sector, is incalculable … Tracing out the destructive ramifications of socialism in education would require several books.”

I haven’t seen this approach to the public education question mentioned in any letters to PHS before, so I thought I would mention it. Trinity Foundation has a website. Included on the website are back issues of The Trinity Review, from which I quoted. What do you at PHS think of this? I’ve decided that for myself, I will not be getting any more education from a public institution (I have a degree from a state university.) And I also will do my best to see that my children do not use state schools, either, for any part of their education.

Regarding the letter from Rhonda Barfield on the impression homeschoolers are making, I would like to encourage every homeschooler to use proper grammar and spelling when communicating with others. I can use improvement in this area myself, but at least I am willing to use a dictionary. When I visit homeschooling websites on the Internet, I see many examples of poor grammar and spelling. I believe this makes a poor impression.

In PHS #33, I was interested to see the International Baccalaureate mentioned in the article about AP and CLEP. I would like to know more about this program and wish that you could write an article about it some time. Do they allow homeschoolers to participate?

Linda Barger, via email

Several books have been written on the subject of how socialism has affected education. Sam Blumenfeld’s Is Public Education Necessary? and NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education are both excellent. Next issue look for a review of John Taylor Gatto’s newest book, The Underground History of American Education, for an enlightening look at how the “robber baron” capitalists of the last century actually planned the current socialist education system.

Re the International Baccalaureate: it is my understanding that if you earn sufficient AP credits, you qualify for the International Baccalaureate. This is probably the only way a homeschooler can earn it at present.

What They Don’t Teach You in School

I saw myself in some of the letters to the editor in issue #34. I was a Christian art teacher in the public school who thought my homeschooling friends were a bit paranoid with all their talk about the ungodly humanist philosophy that was supposedly dominating public education. I knew our school taught evolution, but I thought Christian parents could easily teach creation at home. There were several Christian teachers in my building and many of the students came from Christian families. I thought Christian families could be salt and light in the public schools.

Then I went back to school to get a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction. Guess what? There really was an ungodly humanist philosophy! Two of my professors taught it explicitly in their classes. After I learned it I not only saw how it was the basis for much of what I was being taught at the university, I also saw how I had unwittingly been influenced by it as a public school teacher.

The reason I couldn’t see it before is that its influence is structural. It has to do with how you answer basic questions, such as “What is the nature of my students?,” “What is the nature of the world my students live in?,” and “What do my students need to learn in order to prosper in this world?” The humanist philosophy comes up with the wrong answers to these questions, so that the whole educational structure is dysfunctional. It’s like trying to run a sophisticated space station with a manual designed for a lawn mower.

It wasn’t until I studied the writings of Charlotte Mason and began homeschooling myself that I realized that it wasn’t so much what the public school is teaching that is so wrong. It is what they are not teaching. Because humanist philosophy doesn’t recognize the inner nature of a person (the heart, the soul, the character), they ignore it. Because humanist philosophy does not recognize truth or absolute standards of right and wrong, they do not teach the ideas and principles that feed the soul, but they willingly teach what feeds the flesh. Humanism is a materialistic philosophy. The highest good is pleasure, possessions, power, and position.

I realize that there are many fine Christian teachers and many fine Christian students in public schools. But more and more the teachers’ hands are tied by laws, school policy, and public opinion fueled by this philosophy. The answer is not to be a self-righteous, intellectual, homeschool snob (I’ve been there too). I am wondering whether God will bring about school choice in our nation. Why not ask the Lord to use some homeschool graduates to establish schools based on Biblical philosophy, using some of the lessons we’ve learned in homeschooling? Why not establish schools that reach out first to the poor and hurting? Maybe God will bless us in a way that will cause non-believers to want to come to schools that honor Him rather than making His people go to schools that don’t honor Him.

Karen Carr, West Lafayette, IN

Let Your Light Shine

Thank you for the fine magazine that you publish. I can always count on PHS to supply plenty of good, usable information to the homeschool community.

I read with interest the “Letters to the Editor” section. I would like to comment on the letter written by the young lady in Issue #34. Apparently, she seemed surprised and/or slightly offended that PHS would dare to suggest that homeschooling might possibly produce superior results than public schools.

First of all, PHS is a magazine that is obviously dedicated to the needs and interests of homeschoolers. For PHS to have a “balanced opinion” regarding educational options would defeat the purpose of its existence. If someone wanted to hear the virtues of public school extolled, they should look in one of the myriad of pro-public-school publications that are available. Furthermore, families who choose public schools have a huge support system: teachers, administrators, staff, counselors, the media, government agencies, etc. Homeschoolers are pretty much on our own. Often we go against the opinions of our extended families, churches, neighbors, and communities. Therefore, we relish organizations and publications that address our unique needs and situations.

This is not to imply that homeschooling is the one and only way, or that non-homeschoolers are sinning just by sending their children to public school. I suggest that we leave the job of conviction to the Holy Spirit. However, the words and tone of the above-mentioned letter to the editor went beyond merely defending public schools to attacking homeschoolers for having “an inflated ego and an insecure brand of Christianity.” We are accused of “mock-intellectual snobbery and viciousness.” Those are pretty harsh accusations.

My conviction to homeschool my children does not give me license to criticize others who do not share this conviction. I have never personally observed any homeschooler exhibiting the “viciousness” that the young lady claims to have witnessed. In fact, in my experience, it’s always been the other way around. I try very hard to be interested and enthusiastic about what other people’s children are involved in, but I have never had one non-homeschooler ask how our school year was going, or otherwise show any interest in my children’s schoolwork or activities. My kids have endured years of comments about how they aren’t in “real” school, how much they are “missing,” etc.

I am a graduate of public schools and a state university. I taught in public schools, and my husband is currently finishing his thirteenth year as a public school teacher. Together we have many years of first-hand observation of what is going on in public schools. It is with these experiences in mind that I question the statement that there are “large contingents of dedicated Christians in public high schools all over the place.” Of course there are Christian students and teachers in the public schools. (My husband is one of them.) There are some fine Christian young people within our church who attend public school. But, in our experience, the majority of Christian kids in public school are under such intense pressure to go along with the “crowd,” that they do succumb to the temptations that are so readily available. This does not mean that all homeschooled kids will turn out great and all public-schooled kids will turn out bad. It is just much harder to resist temptation when you are immersed in it 40-50 hours a week.

Furthermore, the quality of academics in public school is obviously declining, according to standardized test results. Even with dedicated teachers and big budgets, many children are falling further and further behind. I graduated third in my senior class, and yet I had never read a novel by Charles Dickens, couldn’t have named the decade that the American Civil War occurred, and had never heard of the French Revolution! I was so immersed in the “social” side of public school activities, that I almost managed to miss out on getting an education. Therefore, to exalt the educational level of public schools is almost laughable.

I submit my opinion that, whatever educational option is chosen, we need to be above reproach in our actions and words toward those who are going a different route. When the Christian community resorts to name-calling and finger-pointing, then we have lost some of our effectiveness in trying to be a shining example for Christ to a lost world.

Susan Corley, via email

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