Saturday, November 20, 2010

Is Homeschooling Still An Option In My District?

The superintendent of schools for Poudre School District (where my family lives) recently sent us a large packet of material in the mail, explaining all of the educational choices that our family has in our district. Curiously, though I looked at every paragraph of the ten-page glossy brochure, plus the three loose pages that were included, there was not one mention of homeschooling as an option in our district. I decided to write and send the following letter.


Dear Dr. Wilson,

While I appreciate your attempt to inform me of my educational options in the Poudre School District through your recent mailing of “Educational Choices”, I note that you left off one very important option – homeschooling. While it is true that this option requires very little of your staff or time, I think it should be made a visible option to those parents who are considering both the education and the maturation of their children.

Our family is now in our seventh year of homeschooling. It has been the single best decision that we have ever made as a family. Our children continue to amaze and bless us with their growth and leadership – both academically and emotionally. While we sent them to public schools for the first six years of their academic journey, we eventually decided to keep them at home and educate them ourselves.

I humbly ask that you consider the following reasons why homeschooling should be on your list of options for parents in our district to consider:

1) Academics – while this is actually not the main reason that we homeschool our children, I recognize that academic achievement is the first and foremost goal pursued by PSD. Our children have enjoyed a three-to-one student-to-teacher ratio for some time now. As I get more involved with the higher subjects along with my wife’s daily teaching duties, this ratio is approaching three-to-two. You simply can’t argue with the results and efficiency of what is essentially a private tutor – and one who is emotionally invested in the children for the long run. Though we add many non-traditional subjects to our class list – such as Bible, Scripture memorization, and Biblical manhood/womanhood courses – our children still score in the ninetieth percentiles on the standardized tests for math, science, reading, etc. Per district requirements, these tests are administered every other year. Our oldest daughter is now taking college credit courses as a high-school junior and is achieving the highest grades in the class. You may be aware of the National Home Education Research Institute’s study showing that homeschooled students score a composite 87th percentile on standardized achievement exams, compared with 50th percentile for public-schooled students (see the graph above).

2) Maturing – our primary purpose for homeschooling is to give a very specific focus to education – one seasoned with the spiritual beliefs shared by our family. Our Christian faith is important to us, but it is unfortunately not allowed to be taught in the public school setting, so we choose to spend time doing so in our living room. Each day begins with Bible reading, Scripture memorization, and Christian topical discussion. Our children can quote whole chapters of the Bible, but more importantly, they can apply what they read and memorize to situations that they encounter each day. This is the single most important reason that we choose to educate in our home. I know many good and faithful public school teachers who would love to lend aid and wisdom to their classes using their Christian faith, but they are unfortunately not allowed to do so. I find it curious that our society accepts this model as more “correct” than a simple sharing of faith and truth. If we were to speak in a completely candid fashion, you and I both know that “political correctness” and “religious tolerance” are the reasons that our public schools have arrived at this state. Our founding fathers would be appalled.

3) Miscellaneous Benefits – There are so many other reasons that district parents might want to consider homeschooling as an option. As parents, we have been able to spend literally thousands of additional hours with each child before they leave the home. This has cost our family many dollars – both in a lost second income for the family and in the expense of home teaching materials – but we would not trade the outcome for any amount of money. Additionally, we like to start school a little early each year, and we rarely take school holidays off in our homeschool so that we may vacation in the fall. You would be amazed at how empty Disneyland and other resorts are in October. We’ve had some of the best vacations we could ever imagine because of this option. Finally, we have met some wonderfully mature children in the various homeschool programs and circles which are available. Our family has been blessed by these interactions.

I respectfully ask that you consider placing a paragraph about homeschooling in your next “Educational Choices” issue. In addition, I would like to volunteer myself and my wife to be “consultants” for the district if you would like to have someone to contact parents who are considering the homeschooling option. Homeschooling has blessed our family richly – and we would like to share this discovery with others.

Respectfully yours,

Alan Metzger

Saturday, November 6, 2010

No Time For Compromise

The mid-term elections are over. The result has pretty much been declared a total victory for Republicans and a repudiation of Democrats. But if you’ve read my posts over the last couple of years, you know that the terms Republican or Democrat mean very little to me. Let’s face it – the previous Republican administrations are just as responsible for overspending and for underwhelming important social issues as is the current Obama staff. On matters which I consider far more important than economic policy – abortion, for example – the Bush administration did nothing to help overturn this grievous and sinful law. A quick glance at my Facebook profile has always shown that I list myself as neither Republican nor Democrat, but as “pro-life”. I would support a politician of any party, regardless of his economics, if I truly felt that he or she would make a run at overturning Roe v. Wade.

I could dwell on the fact that our country elected a president two years ago who claimed to be post-partisan – the majority thought that he would be a uniter and would rise above petty politics. As I predicted, he has been exactly the opposite – polarizing the nation even more than his predecessor and driving his own personal agenda without apology. I could also comment at length on my belief that most politicians who find themselves winning their election will abandon the strong anti-tax, anti-spending and anti-abortion positions which they once took in order to get elected. Their campaign promises will be the very definition of the term rhetoric – “the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast; the art of influencing the thought and conduct of an audience”.

So, I find it very interesting that the buzzword in the headlines this week has been “compromise”. Will Obama compromise with the new Republican-controlled house? Will the Tea Party learn to compromise with the establishment in Washington in order to “get something done”. I heard one Colorado state legislature leader say that it will be important for the new members coming in to learn the art of compromise in order to succeed.

And this is exactly where I differ with most people on the topic of politics and Christian principles. I am not interested in compromising on topics which I consider inviolable. I will support leaders who go after Roe v. Wade with everything they have. For me, that law is the major reason why God would remove his blessing from our nation. God shows His unwillingness to compromise on issues in Revelation chapter 2, when Jesus tells the church at Ephesus in verse 5, “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” All of this took place because they had forsaken their first love (verse 4). Could God actually consider removing His blessing from this nation? Has He already?

At times such as this, I am not looking for compromise. Some would say that “compromise is for losers” – there is an element of truth in that. Compromise is something you seek when you finally realize that you might not get your absolute wish – just as the Democrats are feeling this week. And yet they will hope to maintain a foothold on their gains by claiming that others are suddenly intolerant or unwilling to compromise. I would point out to them that they were the intolerant ones over the last two years.

For me, the Christian attitude which I choose to adopt is found in Jesus’ own words in Matthew 10:34-36 – “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household’”. I don’t believe that, as a committed Christian, I should be a flower-carrying, peace-loving bringer of hugs and warm feelings to those who oppose godly principles. We are in a spiritual battle of epic proportions (Ephesians 6:12). Furthermore, my wife and I are teaching our children to see this battle and pursue it with directness. While we are to remain respectful of others, and we promote the idea of educated discussion, it is our desire to see God’s will done above all else. And sometimes that means that compromise is out of the question.

I will think of this every time I see the word “compromise” over the next two years. Today we fight!