School Choice? What's That?

This week is School Choice Week across the nation.  For a number of years now, Republican-based organizations from Heritage Foundation to Friedman Foundation to our own OCPA, have been calling for School Choice. 

We here at ROPE believe that parental choice is of ULTIMATE importance in the creation of education that works for students and families.  Gone should be the days in which children are locked into districts whose Board of Educations are NOT responsive to the needs of their students and parents.

After much study, however, we also believe that until the COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS (CCSS) are removed from the states that have adopted them (including OKLAHOMA) THERE CAN BE NO CHOICE IN EDUCATION!  In fact, there is no way Choice and the CCSS can exist simultaneously. 

Why would you, as a parent, move your child from one school to another when the same COMMON standards shape the curriculum at EVERY school in the district or city?  Yes, one school may have a better teaching staff, or one might be perceived to be 'safer', but if the teaching curricula of all schools are derived from the same COMMON standards, how can one school produce a more exceptional student than another?  How can schools in states who have adopted the CCSS really differentiate themselves one from another when the basis of all educational knowledge is derived from the same COMMON standards?  Where is the ability for any school to create a student that excels beyond what is "common"?

Sadly, it's not simply government schools that are effected by the COMMON CORE phenomena.

Did you know that private schools and charter schools are turning to Common Core so they will have books to use that contain "COMMON" curricula developed for the standards so private school students will have the same advantage as government school kids on tests such as ACT - which are being shaped to match the standards?  

Many large textbook companies like Pearson, threw their lot in with the Council of Chief State School Officers (a private national association) and the National Governor's Association (also a private association to which NOT all governors belong) to create and insinuate the CCSS in American government schools.  The free market is wonderful, but in this case, textbook companies with smaller market share are forced to mold their materials to the CCSS or lose business to those companies producing CCSS-aligned texts.

This also works with education retailers.  Did you know that companies who sell to the home school market, like Mardel, are selling Common Core materials?

Not only that, but what if home school students are forced to test to the Common Core as they are implemented across states?  What if universities will no longer take transcripts of home school students if they haven't been taught using the COMMON standards or they haven't taken the CCSS standardized tests?  In fact, the Home School Legal Defense Association has condemned the CCSS for these and other reasons.

In closing, why follow blindly behind School Choice advocates when there is really NO CHOICE in education as long as states are perpetuating the CCSS? 

It is important - no necessary - to make sure Republicans pushing these Obama/Duncan overreaching education reforms understand that parents understand the issue of Core vs Choice.  Let's let legislators, the media and School Choice advocates know we will NOT raise COMMON children here in Oklahoma and that Common Core is NOT OK!
Every child deserves better than a COMMON education!


Oklahoma's A-F Grading System Get's An "F"

Recently I read, “An Examination of the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s A-F Report Card”, commissioned by the two largest professional school organizations in the state:  the Oklahoma School Boards Association (OSBA) and the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA).  If you kiddos out there haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet, don’t worry, I’ll bet it will show up on the Common Core State Standards reading list with all those other exciting non-fiction reads kids are going to enjoy so much, but that’s another story.

I read the paper after reading the Daily Oklahoman editorial “Oklahoma Policymakers Shouldn’t Retreat From A-F grading System”, because it seemed a very partisan assessment.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have an opinion on this issue as well, in opposition.  After much study of the No Child Left Behind waiver (first request, final request) for which our state applied, our organization sent the offices of the State Superintendent and the Governor letters explaining why we were in disagreement.  

Our concerns stemmed from a number of sources.  As a Conservative organization, we objected to President Obama’s notion that he could ignore the Constitution and go around Congress to make his own law (waiver) simply because he believed Congress would not act to reauthorize the NCLB.   We also highly objected to the fact that results of the A-F system would cause districts to lose control of their schools to the State Department of Education and whatever contractor they saw fit to administrate those ‘failing’ schools.

It should be said, however, that after years of writing and researching education issues, I have become a near-complete cynic of either political party’s actual interest in education for the sake of educating children.  Consequently, I began to assess the article by first researching its authors.  

This gave me no sense of satisfaction as both were clearly entrenched in the University system and one is currently employed by an organization with clear Progressive leanings.  I moved on to research the origins of the citations made by the authors in support of their thesis.  Yuck.  Linda Darling-Hammond.  Darling-Hammond is a close friend of former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers, so anything she says is suspect to me.  Truly, from the beginning it didn’t seem as though I would find anything we could support in this assessment.

I have a Master’s Degree in Biology. In order to conclude my degree I was FORCED to take at least one statistics course.  Not only am I no statistician, I don’t even play one on TV, so reading the paper in its entirety was daunting.  Yet, once I began, I found most statistical jargon had been replaced by or supplemented with understandable correlations that could make sense to readers with even a basic understanding of statistical theory.

I was frustrated by my takeaway and here it is:  Any time authors of a research paper examining a particular statistical method articulate phrases such as, “perhaps a decision was made”, “no clear justification”, “basis undocumented”, “nonlinear relationship”, “basis assumes” and/or “threats to validity”, there is a problem – and not with the examiner, but the examinee.

It seems shocking, given the emphasis on STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) initiatives as a way for the Obama administration to pump more money into schools, that our own SDE doesn’t seem to understand the concepts of validity and replicability as part of scientific inquiry in any form – certainly in the creation of a statistical rubric the use of which can mean life or death of a school.

The rubric that determines the A-F letter category for each school is broken into four components; Student Achievement (33%), Individual Student Growth (17%), Growth of Bottom Quartile (17%) and Whole School Performance (33%). 

Let’s look at some of the most central concerns.
Calculation of Student Achievement

“The scores assigned to represent proficiency levels…do not seem to correspond to any recognizable metric”.  This goes to the necessity for a study to be replicable.  If a study cannot be replicated, it can’t be reliable.  In this case it was impossible for the authors to decide how the categories of Proficiency Levels were determined because there was “no clear justification” for why these categories were assigned.  This alone should be the nail in the coffin of this A-F system as categories used to assign specific value are apparently arbitrary. 

In addition, the “basis for letter grade conversion is undocumented”.  How is it that an “A” is designated as having the Performance Index Range of 90-120, but all other letter designations merit a 10 point range?  Again the sense of arbitrariness challenges the concept of validity.
       Individual Growth
      Proficiency Levels (Limited Knowledge, Satisfactory, Proficient and Advanced) are introduced into the metric to allow parents to make assumptions about student academic Growth within the school.  Proficiency Levels are assigned a numerical value and the subsequent changes in numerical value determine the degree of student academic Growth.  Because of the way Proficiency Levels are assigned in the rubric, there is no way to determine student grown within a proficiency level - “no change and negative change are accorded the same zero point value”.  
Students could go from the top of the Advanced category to the bottom, or from the bottom of the Limited Knowledge category to the top, yet no change would be reflected in the actual letter designation for the school.   Not only that, but because academic growth and proficiency levels are non-linear in nature, there can be no extrapolation from individual student to school or even classroom.  There is no way to make scientific conclusions about data that have no real cause and effect relationship.
Growth of Bottom Quartile
      Since this is a very small category, small sample size can introduce bias that may not be able to be corrected away by calculating a confidence interval, making the measure unreliable.
      Whole School Performance 
      Attendance alone determines this component in elementary schools.  This component is a full third of the entire rubric, yet there is absolutely no scientific study which shows that students learn simply by benefit of being present in a school.  How is this measure relevant?

I could continue critiquing the author’s critique, but frankly there is no reason.  As I said previously, the entire system should go the way of the Porcelain God based upon the fact that the majority of the categories and values assigned are neither replicable nor valid.

Though every informed citizen has (or should have!) an opinion about the practice of public education –education isn’t, nor should it be, a partisan issue.  It saddens us here at ROPE, however, that state establishment Republicans continually circle the wagons around our Superintendent and Governor as they push the big government ideals of the Obama Administration while marginalizing those of us who dare to contest this phenomenon.  Interesting, isn’t it?  One can only be educated by learning, and one can only learn by opening one’s mind to possibilities outside one’s own orthodoxy, yet, we see very little of that from Republican bureaucrats in Oklahoma dedicated to “education reform”.  We here at ROPE look forward to the day we are able to witness the Republican “education reform” establishment practice what they preach.  We can only ‘hope’.

BIBLIOGRAPHY (in order of use)

Linn, Robert Lee and Sternberg, Robert J.   (January 2013) 32 pp.  An Examination of the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s A-F Report Card. http://www.tulsaworld.com/webextra/content/items/AFreportresearchstudy.pdf

Ravitch, Diane (Dec. 31, 2012)  Common Core And The Fiction Non-Fiction Question. http://dianeravitch.net/2012/12/31/common-core-and-the-fictionnon-fiction-question/

Editor, Daily Oklahoman Online. (Jan. 22, 2013) http://newsok.com/oklahoma-policymakers-shouldnt-retreat-from-a-f-grading-system/article/3747866

White, Jenni.   Bibliography, Literature List for NCLB Research http://www.scribd.com/doc/79042750/WebNotes-Literature-List-for-NCLB-NEW

Department of Education.  (Feb. 8, 2012) WWW2.Ed.Gov. http://www2.ed.gov/policy/eseaflex/approved-requests/ok.pdf

Oklahoma State Department of Education website.  (Feb. 8, 2012) Ok.Gov. http://ok.gov/sde/sites/ok.gov.sde/files/FinalRequest.pdf

Restore Oklahoma Public Education.   (Sept. 8, 2011) Letter to Education Officials – Please Do NOT Apply For An NCLB Waiver For Oklahoma.  http://www.scribd.com/doc/64376597/Letter-to-Education-Officials-Please-Do-NOT-Apply-for-an-NCLB-Waiver-for-Oklahoma

Kelsey, Mike and Grimard, Leslie.  (Sept. 27, 2011)  Obama Waives Congress Away.  Heritage Foundation.  http://blog.heritage.org/2011/09/27/obama-waives-congress-away/

Restore Oklahoma Public Education.  (May 2, 2012) A-F Grading System Disapproval. http://www.scribd.com/doc/92729432/Disapproval-of-a-F-Grading-System

Chumley, CC.  (May 1, 2007)  No Shock, Just Facts: Liberal Indoctrination on Campus.  Human Events.  http://www.humanevents.com/2007/05/01/no-shock-just-facts-liberal-indoctrination-on-campus/

Garner, Donna.  (January 6, 2013)  Linda Darling-Hammond and Bill Ayers are closely associated with Columbia Teachers’ College where the social justice agenda is heavily enmeshed throughout the College.  Education News online.  http://educationviews.org/linda-darling-hammond-bill-ayers-cscope-lucy-calkins-ccs/

www.WhiteHouse.gov.  (Nov. 23, 2009)  President Obama Launches “Educate to Innovate” Campaign for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Education. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/president-obama-launches-educate-innovate-campaign-excellence-science-technology-en

Shuttleworth, Martyn.  (2008)  The Principles of Validity and Reliability are Fundamental Cornerstones of the Scientific Method.  Explorable.com  http://explorable.com/validity-and-reliability.html

White, Michael.  (Dec. 29, 2010)  Scientific Method in Decline?  Science2.0.com  http://www.science20.com/adaptive_complexity/scientific_method_decline


Attack of the 50-Foot History Teacher

I read the most fantastic, truly enlightening (in a, “I can’t believe they really just came fully out of the liberal closet” way) article recently, entitled, “Response: Ways To Deal With ‘History Myths’ In the Classroom" by an author named Larry Ferlazzo. 

After the first election of Barack Obama as president of the United States, I came to the sudden conclusion that America must be educating our youth improperly or incompletely in US History to have so many voters not know what a “Marxist” was and/or how to spot one.  Consequently, I began doing research in US History education in Oklahoma.  What I found startled me enough to co-found an organization (Restore Oklahoma Public Education) dedicated to exposing public education in our state.

“Response” has the dubious honor of containing nearly every category of leftist education drivel I have studied and/or cataloged over the last four years.  After reading this article, I thought it might be helpful to point out to readers a few of the ways it is disingenuous.  Over the years, I've seen many a parent/voter/taxpayer become simply mesmerized by all the rhetoric education 'experts' bloviate by the bucketfuls in order to finance and perpetuate their tree-hugging, Dewey-loving, social-justice-spreading dismantling of America.   People want the truth about education issues, but like deer in the headlights of a Mac truck, they can't figure out how to get past the loud, scary noise to find it.

Toward this end, I have highlighted some of the more astonishing passages from this article.  As you will note, the depths of self-delusion these people have plumbed to truly believe they are NOT perpetuating history myths themselves is quite fascinating.  In fact, that is the most laughable part of this whole, sad treatise.  “NO, do NOT perpetuate history myths”, the author says.  The only problem with their logic is that apparently the only myths present in the system are those stemming from a conservative (accurate/non-PC) viewpoint.  How do I know?  

Let’s deconstruct Mr. Bizarro’s, oops, I mean Ferlazzo’s article.  To do so, I will provide actual quotes from his writing followed by what I will call a MYTH BUSTER ALERT (MBA).  Hopefully, this will draw attention to the inconsistencies in Mr. Ferlazzo’s philosophies - or at least create a very stark outline of liberal (progressive) education ideals.

Mr. Ferlazzo begins innocently enough by asking the question, 
What history myths are being perpetuated by textbooks that you attempt to break down/challenge in your classroom? How do you do that”
To answer, the writer steers his reader to some resources he insists can combat this phenomenon:
The Best Teacher Resource Sites For Social Justice Issues, The Best Resources For Teaching "What If?" History Lessons and History materials he uses in his IB (International Baccalaureate) “theory of knowledge” class.  

MBA:  The IB curricula are written by UNESCO, the education arm of the UN.  ROPE has studied the IB curricula and it’s penchant for ‘educating for sustainable development’.  Yes, if you know what Agenda 21 is, then UNESCO’s your partner to get ‘er done!  Let the IB curriculum educate children on how to implement Agenda 21 in a city/county/state/country near you!  UNESCO will also help everyone everywhere implement the Common Core (which is both ‘core’ and ‘common’ and decidedly UnAmerican).

Mr. Ferlazzo goes on from there, to introduce three people that will tell you (the US History teacher) how to avoid bringing history myths into the classroom.   
The first one is Stephen Lazar.  Here is a brief CV afforded by the author,
Stephen Lazar, a National Board Certified Social Studies teacher, is co-founder of Harvest Collegiate High School in New York City where he teaches students Social Studies and English, is Assessment Coordinator, and Union Chapter Leader. Over the past two years, Lazar worked with Social Studies teachers across NYC and the nation to support to support inquiry-based instruction, project-based learning, and Common Core implementation. He is a member of the Teacher Leaders Network.

MBA:  Stephen Lazar is a Union Leader (who could forget the many colorful antics of the NEA whose reading list containing Saul Alinsky drew enough fire for them to remove from their site his “Rules For Radicals” as suggested reading) that promotes the Common Core and teaches at a high school employing the following philosophy, "Underlying all of our Habits is recognition of fundamental human dignity, expressed in the unwavering core values of Commitment to Peace, Commitment to Diversity and Commitment to Growth." Can you find anything but liberal buzz words in that definition?  In addition, this is an 'experiential' high school - in other words, very indicative of the John Dewey (Marxist/Socialist) teaching style responsible for much of the education ‘reform’ programs of today and the associated decline of public education.

Mr. Lazar gives himself away immediately:
When I became a teacher a decade ago, I entered the classroom equipped with James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me and Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States in the other. I was convinced that the largest problem with history education was the absence of certain stories or perspectives from our textbooks. I saw myself as a myth-buster, ready to challenge students' preconceived notions of Columbus as hero or John Brown as insane terrorist.

MBA:  Stephen Lazar actually has the unmitigated gal to turn us ALL toward Howard Zinn – a known Marxist - as a method for DISPENSING historical myth in the classroom.  Truly, this is laughable.  Get a load of this Cap Times (progressive) blog where the writer laments President Obama not invoking the name of Howard Zinn during his inauguration.  After all, the great One should recognize ‘real’ American history and be unafraid and unapologetic about delivering that to the American people.  Really.

Ferlazzo then goes on to a narrative about Rosa Parks, which as a Biology major, I’ll leave for debunking by some historical truth-teller to be named later.
Our next author to respond is ReLeah Cossett Lent.  We’re told she is an international literacy consultant and ASCD author of a book called, Overcoming Textbook Fatigue: 21st Century Tools to Revitalize Teaching and Learning:  Just the title of this book sounds exactly like every John Dewey notion in black and white – kids get bored listening to a teacher, kids need to be active doing projects in order to learn and we can’t really have them in a musty old textbook when they can learn so much from each other!  

MBA:  When I went to look up her book, I found it on the ASCD website.  ASCD stands for Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  There is a chapter in every state and while Oklahoma’s chapter didn’t put up any obvious red flags, the ASCD full site sure did.  Again, we find here a very progressive (Dewey) education philosophy – ‘whole child’, 21st Century Skills (very Dewey), ‘health and learning’(page 5).

Ms. Cossett Lent says, 
Who can know all of the inaccuracies that history textbooks may contain? Experts in one historical area or another often are dismayed at the simplistic, sometimes misleading information presented in textbooks. Simple narratives that distill complex events into a nice story, lists of facts devoid of any emotional underpinning, or unintended bias resulting from the selection of, say, one photograph over another can skew readers' understanding of historical events, perhaps for a lifetime.“

Well goodness!  Who in the world would want kids studying lists of facts?  Facts are certainly politicized mythology, right?
Now, here comes my FAVORITE contributor to the article – Bill Bigelow!  Bill, as we find out from our author, is the curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools magazine.  He also co-directs the online Zinn Education Project, which provides free curriculum materials to help teachers "teach outside the textbook."

MBA:  Ok, I know, Zinn again.  But, here’s a tasty morsel…one of the articles our editor has put on the front page of the Rethinking Schools website is entitled, “Lessons in Social Justice Unionism – An Interview with Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis”.  Yes, absolutely, NO politics there and certainly, there can be ZERO mythology in a story with that title I feel certain.

Of course, his treatise is eye-poppingly progressive!  You really must go to the original article and read the entire thing – unless you’re a conservative with a heart condition and then, I just sincerely don’t recommend the read as it could be hazardous to your health.

Here are a couple of lines to illustrate my point:
And, as Bill McKibben pointed out recently in a remarkable article in Rolling Stone magazine, "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math," from a mathematical standpoint, it is demonstrably impossible to prevent the climate from spinning out of control with unimaginably horrible consequences, if we burn the fossil fuels, including coal, that energy corporations are in the process of exploiting and selling.

When it comes to teaching about what matters in the world, teachers should not rely on textbooks published by enormous corporations that profit from--and in many cases, create--our most dire environmental and social crises. We need to work together through our unions, professional associations, school communities, and activist organizations to build a curriculum of conscience, one that addresses the most significant challenges facing humanity. As June Jordan wrote in her "Poem for South African Women," "We are the ones we have been waiting for."

 Certainly, no mythology present in any of that.
 At the end of the article, Mr. Ferlazzo mentions that quite a few people left responses to his question on The Zinn Education Project's Facebook page.
He then includes a few:
Max Castillo:
That indigenous, Mesoamerican, aboriginal civilizations became civilized through the conquering and interactions with European civilizations. We need to teach our students to value our indigenous cultures and heritage as early as possible.
Dennis Shaffner:
Ask students to question the bias in any textbook: easy in art history if woman artists are omitted.

MBA:  Seriously?  That's too easy to waste the keystrokes.  If you can't see those for yourself, there is most probably no saving you from yourself.

Truly, this situation MUST be seen as THE integral problem with America today - history teachers teaching mythological history aligned fully and completely with their narcissistic, thoughtless worldviews completely ignorant of the history they suggest they know.  How else can you explain the slide of a once-great Republic into the entitlement abyss of socialism? And so I will end with two applicable quotes from Winston Churchill as food for thought - though I’m almost certain there are zero public school graduates under 30 who know who this is.  


What Happened?

Many of you who have actually read this blog across the years are doubtless wondering what in the world happened to my posts.  I went from fairly regular writer/researcher to nearly complete vacuum status starting September last.  What has happened indeed?

In March of last year, my husband David and I made a long-desired purchase of an acreage in a small town east of the city.  Though a truly perfect piece of land on which to build the farm of our misty, water-colored dreams, the home on which it sat could really only be completely appealing to anyone with a moderate case of 'beer goggles' and - at least in our case - a rather overactive imagination.   

For weeks before and after the purchase of the house, we created and poured over extensive plans for its renovation - including removal of the roof and addition of a second story.  The scope and depth of the plans never really phased us much, as we believed they would be carried out in an empty house while we bunked elsewhere.  Ahhh...the best laid plans of mice and men... 

And so it was that in August, Dave and I, the three kids, two dogs, a parrot and some fish, moved from a 3200 square foot home made nearly perfectly comfortable over a ten year period, to a 1700 square foot home previously inhabited by a young couple with a predilection for drug abuse, and quite possibly a Sasquatch. 

It must be said that while we all (even the children) understood the move was guaranteed to come attached to a certain amount of frustration, none of us really understood exactly what that would look like.  

Moving from an idyllic older neighborhood replete with local public elementary school and playmates on every corner, to the near-equivalent of Little House on The Prairie, has caused numerous arguments, an enormous gasoline bill and an organizational level necessary to complete tasks while 'in town' akin to Seal Team 7.

"Mom, can Kaitlyn come over to spend the night?"  Gosh, that sounds like an innocent enough question, but when Kaitlyn now lives 50 miles away round trip and the drive is made in a Ford Expedition that gets 16 if we're driving with a tail wind, Mom's and daughter's end-games don't always line up!  Thank goodness the boonies has wi-fi!  Since we don't allow TV watching (other than oldies-but-goodies on Netflix) if it weren't for the X-Box and "Just Dance", she might wither and die for lack of stimulation!

The boys, as could be imagined, have gone missing for hours as they scout the 20 acres of woods next door (they have yet to locate the Sasquatch) and assist their father and I in our endless quest to modify our landscape with hoop houses and chicken coops and giant gardens and loafing sheds for goats and horses and alpacas (?).  They don't really complain much (thank you Jesus!) and beyond hoping they might be able to play a sport in the spring - I think mainly to feel as though they're not the only children in the world - they are pretty easy going. 

The re-construction (it's beyond a remodel at this point I fear) of the house is loud.  Period.  The dogs - a combination of old, cataract and cancer-ridden red healer mix and a very young, very energetic, VERY PROTECTIVE, Catahoola (tall blue healer) - are convinced that anytime the contractors move from one place to another, they are a different person completely and therefore not to be trusted, so they bark and bark and bark and bark and bark...My sanity is definitely being tested just with the noise.  I can't wait until the guys tear the ceiling out in my living room and kitchen and all that insulation and gypsum flies out onto my already-dusty bare cement-slab floor.  How exciting that will all be!  Of course I am the middle-man in the whole deal, working between the general contractor and the inspector - copying, pdf'ing and emailing endless documents all the while keeping a running total of costs and any possible overages in my head!

But wait, this was the year that I began schooling all three kids at home!  We use a program called Classical Conversations (CC), and that really helps a lot, frankly.  We all go to 'school' one day a week.  There, tutors (not teachers, parents are the TEACHERS) guide the kids through the lessons that will need to be reinforced for the rest of the week at home.  We learn mainly English and history, but science, art and music are also covered.  It is a classical, Biblically-based program - something I long to be returned to PUBLIC school - with basic memorization of facts, oftentimes sung to a fun tune that helps aid in retention.

I add spelling and Math at home for now, but though the 7-year-old is able to keep up in Spelling, I have to do two separate math programs - one for him and one for the other two (10 1/2 and 11).

Most mornings (flexibility is a hallmark of home schooling and that definitely applies to ours!) we start with a devotion and brief Bible study (we're using Jesus Calling for kids right now), then on to spelling and math.  We're usually finished by 1, so we then have lunch.  After lunch, the older kids work on their writing and grammar assignments from CC.  I try to work on ROPE business during this time, all the while knowing I will be interrupted for 100 different reasons - certainly to include, "Mom, I don't get how to write this paragraph!"

Of course, days when I have meetings, or we have doctor appointments or household errands, this schedule goes right out the window and we have to carve out a different strategy for getting the work done.  Still and all, the day goes on and we go right along with it whatever that looks like!

And so, thus is the way of the world for me at the moment and I haven't even gotten my garden in, or my animals capably installed on the land, so it can only get MORE hectic if that's possible!

It should be said, as I close, that I wouldn't have it any other way.  In fact, I weep for the years I spent believing I couldn't educate my own children and it was better to have them in school so I could have time to get 'my stuff' done.  

Last December I reached the milestone of 50 years.  I've been through a lot in those years (marriage, child, divorce, marriage, child, loss of a child, child, cancer, adoption of two girls - one of which we've been unable to parent...) I've changed a LOT across that span of time and I have lots of regrets, but my true regrets are two; it took me until I was 41 to know Christ, and I turned my kids over without even a second thought to public school starting in Kindergarten.   

Oh, yes, there are days I want to run screaming from house and live in the woods with the Sasquatch, but the days that everything clicks, Heaven on Earth seems possible and I wouldn't trade my hectic, farm building/renovation-laden/kid intensive way of life for anything 

So it goes that just as God put me on the job four years ago of bringing public education to the public eye through ROPE, He hasn't seen fit to let me quit yetConsequently, I will be continuing on in life juggling as many balls as I can get into the air at one time, doing the best I can at everything I can, but all the while knowing I'll fall short somewhere.  Hang in there with me.  Read our Facebook page.  It is most often updated with the stories I still try to read everyday because it is the easiest to do in the shortest amount of time.  If you keep up with the literature, it will be easier for you to understand our emails when I have time to get them out!

More than anything, though, thanks for your time, patience and understanding.  Our kids - and the society they will create - are worth our time, energy and attention and the girls and I (board members Julia Seay, Lynn Habluetzel, Danna Foreman, Stacy Willis, Jo Joyce and Lori Womack) will need your help to continue our work whether I have time to blog or not!