Early Voting Rally

I just returned from an Early Voting Rally. It happened to be sponsored by Texas Republicans… not 100% sure who exactly was sponsoring it (e.g. Travis County Republicans, Texas as a whole, etc.), but it was attended by all your big Texas Republicans: Gov. Rick Perry; Sen. John Cornyn; Jerry Patterson, Texas Land Commissioner; Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller; Attorney General Greg Abbott; Melissa Goodwin, 3rd Court of Appeals; Paul Workman, candidate for Texas State House District-47; Dr. Donna Campbell, candidate for US House Texas District 25; and a host of other Texas Republicans.

Now, I’m not a Republican… and on more than one occasion I wanted to shout out something that would have rubbed folks raw. But this was not the place for such things, and I had bigger reasons to not stir the pot. For you see, I took my children to this event. I was glad to see other parents brought their children too, because this is a lesson in civics. Furthermore, it let’s them see these people close up and see they’re not just a picture on the TV. Besides, you can’t appreciate Gov. “Good Hair” unless you can see him up close. 😉

What I loved most? Oldest. He groaned at the thought of attending this event, but of course he had no choice… he was going. Then I happened to notice during Gov. Perry’s rousing speech… there was Oldest, cheer and applauding with gusto! Yeah, he got into it. 🙂

As a random aside, it was fun watching Gov. Perry’s security detail. One guy (you can see him behind Jerry Patterson in the above picture, in the sunglasses) was pretty tough and serious looking. I nicknamed him Agent Franks. 🙂

As the rally broke up, I managed to chase down Dr. Campbell to say hello. Introduced Daughter to her as well. I could tell she was a tired lady, but a tough one. I applaud her efforts and hope it pans out in a couple of weeks. Daughter was excited to meet Dr. Campbell. 🙂  I was also happy that on the drive home we saw a couple more Donna Campbell yard signs in the neighborhood!

For me, that’s the big reason I went this morning: I wanted my children to experience this. Oh sure, I’ve done things like this before, when I was a kid and my Dad was a Congressman; but then it was “Ugh.. can we go home now?”. Today was the first time I attended a rally because I wanted to be there, and I wanted my children to be there. I want them to understand that politics can and does suck, but we cannot ignore it. It’s important to our lives and something all responsible citizens must care about and partake in. Plus, since they had such a good time, I think it left a positive impression on the kids that sometimes yes, politics can be fun.

Flew the coop

Was out of town for the weekend. Came back last night and saw this in our Carolina Wren nest box:

Looks like the babies are all grown up. 🙂

The thing is, we only saw 2 in there. We’re not sure what the deal was. Are these perhaps the younger 2 and the others already fledged and left? Just don’t know, as we were gone all weekend. The other thing is, you can see they are atop all the nesting materials… that’s not how it was before, so they obviously moved and tramped things down.

As of last night and still this morning, the box is empty and we don’t hear any of the wren chirping. Are they gone for good? Not sure. Going to wait a few days and keep watch on things. If they don’t come back, we’re going to crack open the box and take a look at things. We’re all very curious to learn about how they nest.

Public School FAIL

As you may know, the Texas school boards are working to rewrite history — literally.

Some of the changes I agree with. For instance, I see nothing wrong with teaching religion in school, from a scholarly standpoint. I learned about ancient religions (what we now call mythology) and studied ancient religious texts. I studied modern religions and texts. We looked at them from a scholarly standpoint because you cannot fully understand other civilizations and history if you do not look at the religions of that civilization. But yes, this implies looking at all of them, not just emphasizing one or another nor does it mean being “sensitive” to one so as to not risk offending it.

Some I don’t, like removing the study of Sir Isaac Newton. How can you understand modern science if you don’t understand Newton!! Good grief!

And some things I think are just appalling, such as dropping “references to the slave trade in favour of calling it the more innocuous ‘Atlantic triangular trade’, and recasts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as driven by Islamic fundamentalism.”  Denial or revision (even in the name of political correctness or “sensitivity”) of history undermines the whole point of studying history in the first place.

But whether or not you agree with what the Texas board is doing, it all points to one thing: the growing failure of the public government school system. A few work to gain political leverage, then work in their agenda in hopes of longer-term indoctrination of their view of the world. This is not education, this is brainwashing. This is not education, this is politics, and our children are the sacrifice. But, true education has been dead for a long time.

Just one more reason that the public government school system is a failed organization. We do better when we can have choices, when you can choose what school your child attends. If you want your child to have a particular view of the world, then send your child to that school… be that school one with a narrow view or a broad view. Public government school is supposed to serve everyone, but because of that it serves no one.

I could go a step further and say it’s a greater failing of our social structure, where we demand others teach and raise our children instead of doing that job ourselves. This isn’t to say you have to homeschool, but at least when Junior comes home from whatever school they are sent to, take a look at their textbooks, look at the notes they take, discuss with them what they were learning in school. Get involved in your child’s education. Discuss alternative viewpoints. Expand upon what the school taught. Help them see the world that you want them to see.

From open children to open carry

It’s raining.

For whatever reason, that’s caused more ducks than usual to congregate around our house. More ducks means more distractions for the kids. 😉  Plus, one mother mallard has 6 chicks (hatched probably just a few days ago), so the cute is irresistible.

The kids were outside tending to the ducks. I was in my office working. Wife was in the kitchen. Kids come back in the house to tell us that an Austin Police Officer drove up, rolled down his window, asked them if they were where they were supposed to be, “We’re homeschooled.”, “Alright.” and off he drove. Will it amount to anything? I don’t know, but I doubt it. We did have another talk with the kids about how to handle such situations. But what got me was what I found myself saying.

You see, Wife was saying how one of our homeschooling mentors always avoided such issues by running her errands after normal school hours. I can understand. We’re doing nothing wrong, we’re doing nothing illegal, but we are doing something that most people aren’t familiar with and “breaks the norm” of what’s expected… thus it has potential to cause trouble and bring headaches and hassles into our lives. So mentor’s approach was to just avoid it because she didn’t want to hassle. Wife doesn’t do that, we don’t lock the kids away and only bring them out when children are supposed to be brought out, but certainly Wife prefers to avoid the hassle.

I found myself saying that no, we can’t do that; we can’t avoid the hassle. Not saying we should flaunt it and invite it, but that if the hassle comes, it comes. What we’re doing is fine, legal, normal; it may not be mainstream, but how are people ever going to get used to it, acknowledge it, accept it, and not flinch or find it strange if we always keep it hidden away? If we always work to avoid the hassle, no one will ever see or know. How does that help or improve the situation? If anything, it could serve to make the situation seem worse because it’s being hidden away and not just openly done.

And I found myself thinking about Open Carry.

It may not be mainstream today, but how else are you going to get it to be mainstream unless you make it so? To hide it away isn’t going to help. Look at any sort of “civil rights” be it homeschooling or gay rights or women’s rights or various ethnic groups. You don’t get to sit at the front of the bus by always hiding at the back of it (by force or by choice).

Still trying to figure out how I stand on open carry, but this little experience certainly has influenced me a bit.

I was inspired to write this due to a comment made by Linoge on Uncle’s website. Thanx, Linoge.

Berry’s Tour

A guy goes on a tour of the Berry’s Mfg plant.

I use Berry’s bullets in my reloading, so that was neat to read.

And to boot, the blogger is a homeschooled kid. Try having field trips like that in public schools!

Teaching knots

I’m working on an effort where every day I teach my kids something useful. Doesn’t really matter the topic, just a little something every day.

I only just started a few days ago and so far we covered things like stopping bleeding, RICE, different hammers and how to use them, and today we started on knots. I’ll probably stick with the knot thing for a while, because hey… I like knots. All that Boy Scouts growing up.

I wanted to share an excellent website that teaches knots, called Animated Knots by Grog. Covers all your major knots from things like rescue knots, household knots (including tying a tie), Scouting knots, fishing knots, whipping and coiling, and even fun stuff like the monkey fist. Yes, we’re going to tie one of those eventually.

Working homeschooled kids

Oldest expressed interest in getting a job.

Hallelujah! 🙂

Since he is a minor, all sorts of child labor laws come into play. I found this summary of Texas and Federal law at the Texas Workforce Commission’s website.

Here’s one part that I’m not sure about:

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) a child 14 or 15 years of age may not work during school hours…

We homeschool. In Texas, the legal status of homeschool is a private school. So, what does “school hours” mean? My guess is the normal hours of operation for the public school system in the district in which we reside (I sent an email to HSLDA). But why must it be this way? One of the benefits of homeschooling is flexible scheduling. It allows us to better organize our family life. It can give an employer a work resource at a time when they might need the help (e.g. lunch rush), instead of only getting a glut of teenager help from 3-7 PM every day. Furthermore, that glut limits the number of teenage employees that can be had as there’s only so much work and wages to go around at that time of day.

I understand the intent of child labor laws, including the history of how they came about. The intentions are good. It is evident the laws are constructed around traditional notions of institutionalized schooling. Given the dramatic rise of homeschooling in the past some years, it makes sense to revise and modernize our laws to improve how homeschooling is legally regarded (e.g. HoNDA).

Updated: Well, maybe this will work out, at least here in Texas.

HSLDA sent me a summary of Texas child labor laws.

Q: Can a child work during public school hours?

A: Texas has no prohibition against a child working during public school hours.

I requested clarification regarding how Federal law would work in here. Since the Federal law does not specify what “during school hours” means, Texas law trumps in this case.

So it seems if Oldest was to be hired, he could work the lunch rush. So long as of course things didn’t conflict with his schooling, which we wouldn’t allow anyway.

Nevertheless, I could see employers not wanting to hire in such a situation. First, they may be unaware of the laws. In that case, best I can say is for Oldest to walk into the job application process prepared with paperwork showing the laws and legal take on things, because I’m sure an employer would contact the TWC but they may also be unaware. Second, an employer may just want to avoid the potential appearance of the situation. To see a child working mid-day will be strange to a lot of people, which could prompt phone calls to CPS or TWC, and an employer may just not want to deal with the hassle…. or it could count against Oldest in some way.

We’ll see how it all plays out.

Obviously a terrorist

Zachary Christie. He’s obviously a terrorist.

How do I know this?

Why, he ran afoul of the Newark, Delaware school district’s zero tolerance policy.

What did he do?

He brought a utensil to school.

You see, 6 year old Zachary just joined the Cub Scouts. He received a folding utensil that can be used as a knife, fork, and spoon. He was so excited at receiving it, he wanted to use it to eat his school lunch.

Obviously a terrorist. Spoons… soon we won’t be able to take those on airplanes either.

As the result of this, the boy faces 45 days in the district’s reform school.

Obviously a troublemaker. Thank God those school officials acted now. Who knows what could have happened if this sort of behavior went unchecked. I mean, the boy takes karate… obviously demonstration of violent tendencies. Then he joins the Cub Scouts, with all their uniforms and handshakes and oaths, learning about camping and the outdoors, maybe even how to shoot a BB gun… what sort of paramilitary training is this?!?! I’ll say it again, thank God for those school officials.

So, what is the mother doing? Homeschooling him, at least while this whole ridiculousness is going on.

Frankly, I hope Mom makes it a permanent setup. Zero-tolerance for public school lunacy, I say.

But you know, easier to hide behind stupid policies that don’t work (in fact, they tend to make things worse) than use your brain. Wither education.

Subtle bias

I am at the teacher supply store (yea iPhone!) waiting on Wife to finish shopping for some teaching supplies. While waiting I wander around looking at the teaching aids and workbooks. I happen upon the book section on social studies and government. Oh cool! A workbook on the US Constitution. I flip through it. There is a section on the second amendment. It has a brief discussion of the “controversy” of 2A. Then the question section:

On the lines below, describe one argument for and one argument against gun control.

Why not for or against the right to bear arms? for or against the right to defense? for or against the abridgement of a fundamental right?

Subtle bias?

Some thoughts on socialization

Heather, the Swiss Army Wife, points out an interesting article in Psychology Today magazine.

Here’s a direct link to the article.

The article is about how, at least here in the United States, we’ve built a cultural and social structure that created this thing known as the teenager. A state where they have a lot of freedoms and abilities, but yet they don’t. Where mentally and physically they are capable of many things, yet we’ve put massive restrictions and burdens upon them. As a result, we’ve created a lot of the “teenager vs. parent” conflicts and generalized teenager angst. It’s an interesting read.

One reason Wife and I choose to homeschool is because of the breadth of people our children are exposed to. Our kids are not locked in school rooms with 25-35 other kids about their same age and development level, day in and day out for the majority of their young lives. In fact, much of the time you go through each grade in school surrounded by the same people. Then many of them are involved in after-school activities, and often those involve the exact same people the kids see during the day with perhaps some specific variance but still generally divided by age/grade. So it’s really just this small slice of folks that the kid interacts with, all around the same age and development. It’s the blind leading the blind with sometimes far too often the only external guideance coming from less desirable sources like TV, movies, and other bits of popular culture. Granted you can expose children to folks of other ages and development levels, but “with our busy lives these days” that doesn’t often happen.

Homeschooling tends to lend itself to children being exposed to a cross-section of people of all ages. My children attend Daily Mass, which is mostly attended by elderly. When doing things in their 4-H program, they’re working with kids from ages 8 to 18. Even just in daily schooling the 3 kiddos are with each other, all of their different ages and development stages. There’s much to be learned from this, especially exposing kids to older folks (role models) and allowing your kids to sometimes be the older folks (role models). From the article:

Teens in America are in touch with their peers on average 65 hours a week, compared to about four hours a week in preindustrial cultures. In this country, teens learn virtually everything they know from other teens, who are in turn highly influenced by certain aggressive industries. This makes no sense. Teens should be learning from the people they are about to become. When young people exit the education system and are dumped into the real world, which is not the world of Britney Spears, they have no idea what’s going on and have to spend considerable time figuring it out.

This isn’t to say that homeschooling is the only way to get kids exposed to the right people, but it does show what homeschooling can offer, especially when the biggest concern folks have about homeschooling is “socialization”. Regardless of how your children are socialized on a daily basis (homeschooling, private school, public school, etc.), don’t worry so much if they are being socialized; if the children interact with other humans on a regular basis, they’re being socialized… even us homeschoolers let our children out of the dungeon once in a while. 🙂 Instead, concern yourself more with the quality of the socialization they are getting.