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Suppose that the federal government decided to over-reach and do something illogical about the national epidemic of childhood obesity. Bear with me while I set up the scenario.

Because it’s “for the children,” the Department of Health announces a sweeping program to require a national, standardized breakfast menu. Frosted flakes, cocoa puffs, and honey nuts are all out. All children, under the age of 18 will be required to have a nutritious breakfast using only items from a federally mandated and approved list of foods. Muesli & granola are in. Fruit and yogurt are in. Everything else, not so much. And suppose further that the federal bureaucracy came up with some obnoxious and intrusive schemes to monitor and verify what all of our [ahem, excuse me, THEIR] little darlings were eating for breakfast.

There would of course, be a predictable outrage from parents (and probably teen-agers, if not toddlers). The federal government would be denounced for taking liberties with the constitution. There would be rallies denouncing the Common Breakfast Scheme. The idea of enlarging the federal government and allowing its intrusion into suburban kitchens would be anathema.

Of course, there would be those who saw opportunities. Some of the major breakfast cereal manufacturers might rush to re-design their cereals and packaging to announce that they were Common Breakfast compliant. Some big corporations might even see great advantage in having their products endorsed and approved, while their rivals’ products were banned. Big Breakfast Corporations might even publicly support the Common Breakfast Scheme.

But ponder, for just a moment, the small local family run business who makes homemade granola. They’ve been careful with their ingredients. They have a loyal customer base. And they certainly have nothing to do with any big government initiative that wants to compel everyone to eat granola.

And suddenly, they find themselves denounced as either “supporting”, “accidentally aligned”, or “coincidentally aligned” with the Common Breakfast Scheme. Citizen activists from The Breakfast Freedom Coalition (which sprang up out of nowhere), take it upon themselves to compile lists of any and all companies who produce any product which is listed as approved by the Common Breakfast Scheme. Websites are started, activists are dispatched urging consumers to demand information about the local granola companies stance towards the Common Breakfast.

And through a network of self-appointed experts, small companies are told that their products are going to be boycotted because they are Common Breakfast Aligned. Indeed, at least one of the activists writes and publishes an opinion piece denouncing them as the equivalent of Tories during the American Revolution!

And all they really wanted to do was to continue making and selling the same homemade granola that they’d been making and selling for twenty years. They wanted nothing to do with the Common Breakfast list of approved foods. They certainly didn’t support a federal mandate telling people what they could and couldn’t feed to their children for breakfast.

Math problem #1: How much time, energy, and goodwill would have been wasted by The Breakfast Freedom Coalition, tracking down all of the local granola companies in order to publicize which ones were making Common Breakfast aligned food before they came to their senses?

Math problem #2: How much impact would The Breakfast Freedom Coalition have on the implementation of the federal government’s Common Breakfast Scheme by targeting small granola companies?

But of course, this is simply a highly improbable thought experiment.

The federal government would never consider a scheme so poorly conceived and so universally intrusive (and so unconstitutional).

And there really aren’t any citizen activists so benighted as to think that the way to oppose the federal government would be to go after small homemade granola companies.

Are there?

Horace Mann - Daguerreotype by Southworth & Hawes, c1850.jpg

Horace Mann

What is happening in American public education right now is alarming.

That being said, the crisis/problems in public education did not suddenly develop with the introduction of the Common Core Standards. At a basic philosophical level, the problem stems from a failure to realize that education is the responsibility of parents – it is a part of the responsibility we have to raise our children and assist them in growing up to be godly men and women. Parents can (and do) delegate some of the tasks involved, but the overall responsibility & supervision remains theirs.

In this country, about 150 years ago, the intellectual elite decided that most parents were too stupid to be trusted to raise their children. This was a shaking of the foundations. From Horace Mann to John Dewey to Ellwood Cubberley the focus has been to have the state and schools assume responsibility for the raising of children. This is the fundamental cause of the conflict between educational bureaucrats and homeschoolers. They do NOT see education as a matter of parental choice. They believe they, and only they, have the competence and authority to decide what is best for children – all children, including YOUR children.

Common Core has to be evaluated at multiple levels. The problem is NOT that any particular granular skill defined in the Common Core is wrong, or offensive. I have yet to find one, and I’ve asked repeatedly for someone to point out to me what part of the Standards themselves is offensive. At the granular, individual standard level, the only thing wrong with the Common Core standards is that they are incomplete and set the bar too low.

The problem is the bureaucratic superstructure which is using the Common Core Standards to assert and reclaim control over the education of all children. Homeschoolers have been resisting this for 40 years. We must continue to do so. But we must recognize that it’s not our methods or books that cause concern. Our existence is what offends them. They don’t want us to just comply with tests & texts, they want us to return control of the children to them.

A huge consequence of thinking about Common Core along these lines is to recognize that there is NOTHING wrong with teaching the individual standards or using the texts that do. I repeat, their only problem at the base level is that they are incomplete and set the bar too low. So, have no fear of using a book that is Common Core. Letting your child read an Usborne book will not result in their growing up to be homeless on the streets of Seattle.

Homeschool publishers and Usborne books are NOT part of the problem, even if they align with every one of the Common Core Standards, which I dare say almost all of them do. In fact, the good ones meet them and exceed them!

The problem is the long chess match between parents and the educrats over who will control the children.

Who does God entrust children to?

And who has responsibility for their education?

Those are the fundamental questions.

Common Core is a fad. Pay attention to the long game, the chess match.

PLEASE, PLEASE, stop branding, tagging, homeschool publishers with the Scarlet “A” because they use Common Core Aligned books.

If we are to resist the onslaught of the educational establishment and their attempts to reclaim authority and control over the education of all children, we’re going to NEED homeschool publishers.


– Rob Shearer
Director, Francis Schaeffer Study Center
Publisher, Greenleaf Press
Homeschooling Dad

businessman-sitting-in-corner-with-dunce-hatCommon Core Standards have become the backdoor to a standard national curriculum.

There is some slight chance that they will prove useful in a few small areas – the sequence of instruction for mathematics, perhaps. But this will likely be due to the broken clock phenomenon. The experts who brought us “New Math” in the 1960s were never discredited, just recycled.

I can guarantee you that they will militantly require the instruction and acceptance of the evolutionary model.

And I can guarantee you with 100% certainty their objectives in social studies will be an abomination of political correctness.

A national curriculum is a terrible idea – for public, private, and homeschoolers. It presupposes that there are “experts” who understand child development with such precision that they can prescribe what every child needs to know when.

And this initiative comes from those who have devised and imposed a system of public education that is a patchwork of occasional, in-spite-of-themselves successes and a succession of overwhelming tragic failures of epic proportions.

The schools of education lack any true appreciation or understanding of human nature. They refuse to acknowledge the simplest, common sense observations of the difference between boys and girls or the variations of ability and interest within each gender. The do not respect children as unique persons.

They lack understanding, credibility, or any track record of success.

Why should they be consulted about curriculum, or paid the least bit of attention again?

/rant off


My interview with Senator Santorum (conducted week before last) has been published in Home Educating Family Magazine, and online!

Click below to read the full text:

Eavesdrop on a Chat with Senator Rick Santorum | Home Educating Family Association Blog.


They only do one word a month?

And that one not very well.


For the record, this is a photo of a TV screen displaying the word of the
month at a HIGH SCHOOL in New York State.

And people wonder why we homeschool.




“It is impossible to have a public debate about education policy if public schools can’t be straight forward about their spending.”

A new report from the Cato Institute shows that public school systems are deliberately fudging the numbers on the cost of public education. Typical school system tactics are to exclude healthcare or retirement costs of public school employees, or the capital costs of building school buildings or debt service payments on school bonds.

Watch this video. It will make your blood boil.


The District of Columbia spends $28,000 per pupil, per year. That’s MORE than all but the most expensive DC private schools. This ought to be a major scandal.

You can read the full report, titled They Spend What? The Full Cost of Public School at the Cato Institute website.

At the current under-reported rate of $7,620 for the state of Tennessee, Mrs. RedHatRob and I have saved our local school system $1,005,840 by educating our 11 children at home. At that’s without charging them for Kindergarten, which would have been another $83,820.

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A daughter killed by her own parents. Can anyone imagine a more heart-wrenching story? A California couple have been charged in the death of their 7 year old daughter.

Children are precious blessings from God. To beat them until their will breaks is a monstrous offense against God. I understand that for some children, a swat on the backside might be an appropriate punishment from time to time. Perhaps several swats.

In my judgment it is a mistake to ever use anything other than an open hand on the backside. And it is a mistake to ever initiate an open-ended, physical punishment with the idea that you will not stop until the child submits or repents. A spanking is a specific, limited punishment. 3, or 5, or perhaps 10 swats for something really serious. And then it is over. Regardless of the child’s reaction. Children will react in unique and different ways. At least one of our children would burst into tears at a frown or a sharp rebuke. At least one of them once responded to a spanking with a defiant, “that didn’t hurt!” Youthful bravado. I suspect the spanking had exactly its intended purpose, regardless of their comment.

But to hold a child down for an hour? And beat the child with a flexible plastic pipe? Because she mispronounced a word? Monstrous.

The parents must answer for what they have done. And those who taught them that this was an acceptable manner of discipline must answer for what they have taught.

I will not condemn those who never spank. I have known parents who were quite successful without ever using a spanking. I also will not condemn those who, on infrequent occasions, administer a swat to the behind with a hand. I know many warm, loving, compassionate parents who believe that at times, it is necessary. And they have lovely, loving, affectionate children.

But I do call on those who use physical punishment as their first, or most frequent discipline tool to stop. And I condemn any parent who would use a plastic pipe to beat a child. Ever. I condemn anyone who would instruct others to do so.

Read Ephesians. Read it again. Husbands and fathers – focus on what Paul calls husbands and fathers to do. Love your wives. Love your children. Deny yourselves and lay down your life for your wife. Be patient and kind. Do not exasperate your children.

Every child is a precious gift from God and dear to His heart. Even when they stomp their feet and disobey – it is a misguided sense of pride to think that this in any way impugns our position, dignity, or competence as parents.

Focus on love – not on creating an image of obedience and perfection.

Put away wrath. Put away the idol of perfection. Put away the damn plastic pipe!

Please, as a father and a teacher – as an encourager of fathers, I appeal to you. Make your spankings rare and short. And your beatings never.

Other bloggers have written posts on this tragedy which are worth reading:

Virginia Knowles, Katie Kind, and Timberdoodle are good places to start.

There is a remarkably even-handed article in Salon by Lynn Harris, which was published today. It literally drove me to my knees in anguish. A word of caution! The comments are almost uniformly hostile to Christianity in general and spanking in particular. This would NOT be the place or the time to defend corporal punishment. Read the comments if you dare, but set aside your anger. The death of Lydia is a tragedy, for the loss of her precious life. It is also a scandal to the whole body of Christ. We must acknowledge this.

A thoughtful critique from Tulipgirl, written in 2006 but still quite relevant, and with links to useful resources. Her reaction to the latest tragedy is here.

Update: SpunkyHomeSchool blog (Karen Braun) has a thoughtful post up that is also worth reading.

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It will be some time before we are able to get these printed, but in the meantime we wanted to make them available to anyone who is interested. You can browse online here or download a .pdf to your own computer. You can even print your own copy if you’d like.

Our history study packages are typically designed for use in one semester, so now’s the time to order for the new year. Break out of the textbook box. Give your children real stories about real people. Reclaim history for them and for yourself.
Greenleaf Press 2010 Retail Catalog

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A public-school system, if it means the providing of free education for those who desire it, is a noteworthy and beneficent achievement of modern times; but when once it becomes monopolistic it is the most perfect instrument of tyranny which has yet been devised. Freedom of thought in the middle ges was combated by the Inquisition, but the modern method is far more effective. Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of their parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them then to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist. Such a tyranny, supported as it is by a perverse technique used as the instrument in destroying human souls, is certainly far more dangerous than the crude tyrannies of the past, which despite their weapons of fire and sword permitted thought at least to be free.

– J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, 1923, page 12

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In the state of Oregon, on Election Day, 1922, a law was passed by referendum vote in accordance with which all children in the state are required to attend the public schools. Christian schools and private schools, at least in the all-important lower grades, are thus wiped out of existence. Such laws, which if the present temper of the people prevails will probably soon be extended far beyond the bounds of one state, mean of course the ultimate destruction of all real education. When one considers what the public schools of America in many places already are – in their materialism, their discouragement of any sustained intellectual effort, their encouragement of the dangerous pseudo-scientific fads of experimental psychology – one can only be appalled by the thought of a commonwealth in which there is no escape from such a soul-killing system.

– J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, 1923, pages 10-11

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