Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Unpopular Congress

There is a widespread misconception that the American people disapprove of Congress as much as they disapprove of Pres. Bush. This is related to poll figures showing historically low approval ratings for the current Congress. I truly wish the Democratic leadership would pay extra close attention to these polls because they are misleading. The fact is that the American people don't disapprove of what the Democrats have done. How could they, the Democrats haven't actually done anything. No, the disapproval of Congress is related to what they haven't done.

The conservatives and Republicans and pro-Bush people are fond of obfuscating the basic reality of these figures by saying that since Congress has such low approval ratings, it must mean they approve of Bush, despite the fact that Pres. Bush has dipped into Richard Nixon territory. The American people are so contemptible of George W. Bush right now that he was forced at every occasion to remind them that it wasn't his report that would show how things are going in Iraq, it was General David Petraeus. Bush mentioned Petraeus' name in no less than fifty speeches this past year. Why? Because even Bush realizes now he has absolutely no credibility. If he put his name on that report, nobody would even have bothered to listen. As it was, Petraeus was essentially acting as Bush's puppet, finding what he was told to find, and even with the cache of all those pretty little medals on his uniform, most of America didn't believe a word he said. Who can blame them? Pres. Bush has conditioned Americans over the past six and a half years to automatically know the sky is red if he says it is blue.
The reason that Congress is disapproved of has to do with the fact that they haven't stood up to Bush. They haven't even launched a serious investigation into his criminal actions, much less impeached him. Not only did not they not take steps to end the war as promised; they actually, amazingly, gave Bush more troops and more money. And they will continue to do so. And as long as they act just like the Republican Congress before them their approval ratings will sink. On the other hand, if they could somehow find their spine and have it surgically reimplanted and call every single person who ever worked inside the White House to testify and cited anyone who didn't show up for contempt and publicly humiliated those people by having them arrested and carted off to jail until a judge decided if they had any legal standing to avoid testifying, they would be seen as heroes. If they would march up to the White House and demand not a timeline, but a systematic breakdown of exactly what must be accomplished in Iraq for troops to start coming home, their approval ratings would go through the roof. Americans are tired of the mission in Iraq changing every six months; they want to know exactly what it will take to bring the troops home. Bush won't do that and Congress so far hasn't kept its responsibility to make him do so.

Instead, the Democrats as usual refuse to play the kind of hardball that consistently keeps them out of the White House. The argument that Congress has low approval ratings because the people prefer Pres. Bush's handling of the country is patented ludicrous. In a bizarre twist of fate, the low approval ratings of the Democrats are based on exactly the same things as the low approval ratings of Pres. Bush. In fact, many people who respond negatively to the way Congress is handling things are probably confusing Congress with the White House.

I know I am.

Legality of Homeschooling

It is completely legal to home school a child.

Some parents are concerned of legal restrictions they feel home schooling may impose on them when deciding to home school their children. Parents fear that home schooling their children is either illegal or that the steps needed to acquire home school certification are too ponderous or odious to accomplish. Some of these fears are justified depending on where the parents reside; however, the fears are usually larger than is appropriate.

The rules and laws of a child's education are set down and enforced by the individual states even though the Constitution of the United States makes no mention of education and the Department of Education tends to play a very large role in the certification of home schooling. The laws do vary from state to state, though.

It is legal in all fifty states to home school children, but some states have fewer restrictions than others. For example, Texas and Idaho place a minimum of restrictions on parents who decided to home school their kids. However, Massachusetts and New York are very particular about the methods and keep a close watch on parents who do home school their children; even requiring curriculum approval, regular student achievement scores to be submitted on a timely basis, and even home visits. Pennsylvania requires local school districts to review any materials that are to be used in home schooling for approval.

Many bills have been introduced into Congress that would expand the power of the states to enter the home of children who are home schooled or to compel parents to enroll their children into public school. While efforts have been made to monitor or defeat these legal efforts, they were overturned in 2006. Parents need not worry too much about rights being taken away since the trend of courts has been stalwartly in their favor for many years.
The Supreme Court case of Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) stated that the care and education of a child rested solely on the parents of said children, not the state in which they reside. The court also reaffirmed the rights of parents to make decisions regarding their children's education in 2000 with the Troxel v. Granville case, which in and of itself was not an issue of home schooling, home school advocates used it to further their goal of freedom to choose how their children are educated.

The HSLDA (Horne School Legal Defense Association, http://www.hslda.org ) was founded in 1983 to support the rights of parents who wish to home school their children and has fought many battles in the courtroom on behalf of such parents. This association closely follows any changes made by Congress and the states regarding education and publishes a yearly account of legislative acts.

Even though government from state to federal levels have tried to chip away at the parents' rights to home school their children, court cases generally have been settled in the parents' favors.

There have been cases of social workers who zealously try to protect what they feel is their duty to protect the children of parents who home school. Even with no evidence of parental abuse, such social workers try to follow through with their attempts. The HSDLA works to provide support and resources to parents so that such legal and social issues never have to be dealt with in the first place.

It is a good idea for parents considering home schooling to assiduously investigate all the necessary paperwork, supervision and requirements by law of their resident states. The parents are the ones who need to be first educated in home schooling.