August 23, 2000
Summertime, and the living is...buggy! When we moved into our home last summer, half of the windows didn't have screens to fit them. This was no big deal; we had air conditioning, and we just kept the windows closed. My husband meant to have new screens made for the windows eventually, but has just never gotten around to it. Then it happened: the air conditioner quit. Keeping the windows closed was no longer an option as the temperatures climbed, so we found ourselves spending a lot of time swatting the flies who managed to find their way inside.
The frustrating thing about swatting flies when you have an open window is that once you've killed four or five of them, there are ten more to take their place. We all had to walk softly and carry a big fly swatter, or else the flies would soon take over. Hmmm...this sort of reminds me of the ongoing struggle in this country to keep the radical ideas of a few from gaining complete control.
It seems that everywhere we look, new battlegrounds are emerging. Swat! There...conservatives managed to push through a pro-marriage proposition in California. That's wonderful, but the Vermont Supreme Court has decided that same-sex couples are entitled to all of the benefits of married couples. Swat! An Alabama judge gains the right to post the Ten Commandments in the courthouse. Great, but the ACLU is trying to change the Ohio state motto, which reads, "With God all things are possible."
The latest assault on American family life is President Clinton's offer to help home schoolers 'organize.' "I think that states should explicitly acknowledge the option of home schooling, because it's going to be done anyway," Clinton said. "It is done in every state of the country and therefore the best thing to do is to get the home schoolers organized," he said, concluding his two-day "school reform tour." He went on to educate us with the news that: "there's a good way to do this and a not-so-good way to do this...but if you're going to do this, your children have to prove that they're learning on a regular basis, and if they don't prove that they're learning then they have to go into a school -- either into a parochial or private school or a public school."
OK, Mr. President, we understand now. Thank you for the clarification. I think most of us always assumed a parent knows best what his or her child needs, and that many families choose home schooling precisely because of the organization, beauracracy, and impersonal nature of most schools. They also choose home schooling because children taught at home consistently outrank their public-educated peers in SAT and ACT scores. Not to mention the fact that the nation's best colleges are now actively courting home schooled students because they have the discipline and character it takes to succeed. Oh, where is my fly swatter?
I also wonder if Mr. Clinton saw the results of the recent National Spelling Bee. The three top winners--not one of them, but the three top spellers--were all home schooled. Not only that, but the first place winner, 12-year-old George Abraham Thampy, fell only one answer short of winning the National Geography Bee just last week. This isn't an isolated incident, either. In this year's spelling bee, 27 of the top spellers were home educated, outnumbering private and parochial students, and second only to public schooled children. The 1997 winner was home educated, and so was the 1999 winner of the National Geography Bee.
Michael Farris, president and founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, remarked, "It would seem to me that the last person we would want to be organized by is the government." HSLDA has had to use its fly swatter on more than one occasion when the rights of its members were threatened. He noted, "There's a constant pushing against the excesses of the regulations [of home schools]. The courts have been friendly to us when the regulations are overly burdensome. Slowly but surely, home schooling is marching toward freedom. We want to continue that march, both politically and legally."
We as citizens can keep the radical left from imposing its values on our families, but it will require commitment on the part of us all. And plenty of fly swatters.
This article copyright © 2000 by Sarah Taylor and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.