Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Black Home-Schoolers on the Rise

More Black Families Home Schooling

By ZINIE CHEN SAMPSON, Associated Press Writer Sun Dec 11, 6:19 PM ET

RICHMOND, Va. - Denise Armstrong decided to home school her daughter and two sons because she thought she could do a better job of instilling her values in her children than a public school could. And while she once found herself the lone black parent at home-education gatherings that usually were dominated by white Christian evangelicals, she's noticed more black parents joining the ranks.

"I've been delighted to be running into people in the African-American home-schooling community," Armstrong said.

Home-school advocates say the apparent increase in black families opting to educate their children at home reflects a wider desire among families of all races to guide their children's moral upbringing, along with growing concerns about issues such as sub-par school conditions and preserving cultural heritage.

"About 10 years ago, we started seeing more and more black families showing up at conferences and it's been steadily increasing since then," said Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, a national advocacy group.

Nationwide, about 1.1 million children were home schooled in 2003, or 2.2 percent of the school-age population. That was up from about 850,000, or 1.7 percent, in 1999, according to the U.S.
Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics. A racial breakdown of home-schooled students isn't yet available, the center said.

However, the Home School Legal Defense Association says the percentage of black home-schooling families has increased, though hard numbers weren't available.

The numbers are still very low because most black families lack the time or economic resources to devote to home schooling, said Michael Apple, an education professor at the University of Wisconsin who tracks home schooling. He said much of the increase is seen in cities with histories of racial tensions and where black people feel alienated and marginalized.

Some families decide to do it because public schools don't adequately teach African-American history and culture, some want to protect their children from school violence, "and for some, it's all of this and religion," Apple said.

Armstrong said she wants her children — ages 12, 10 and 7 — to have a "moral Judeo-Christian foundation" that public schools can't provide.

"I felt that my husband and I would be able to give more of a tutorial, individual learning situation than a teacher trying to address 40 kids at one time," said Armstrong, who lives in the Richmond area.

She said she also was concerned that schools wrongly label some black boys as learning-disabled while white children with similar behavior are not.

To help guide black home-schooling families, Joyce and Eric Burges started the National Black Home Educators Resource Association in 2000. She said many families were dissatisfied with their public schools but weren't aware that home schooling was legal.

Joyce Burges, of the Baton Rouge, La., area, says she and other black home schoolers have been likened to traitors by people who think they've turned their backs on the struggle to gain equal access to public education. But she feels that when schools don't teach children to read, or fail to provide a safe place to learn, children should come first.

"You do what you have to do that your children get an excellent education," she said. "Don't leave it up to the system."

Apple, the Wisconsin professor, said improving public education for the greatest number of students depends on mass mobilization by concerned parents, but he raises a cautionary note.

"They're trying as hard as they possibly can to protect their children, and for that they must be applauded," Apple said. "But in the long run, protecting their own children may even lead to worse conditions for the vast majority of students who stay in public schools, and that's a horrible dilemma."

National Black Home Educators Resource Association:

I think home-schooling is a viable option not just for blacks but for every family. It's not a rare occasion to see families home-schooling their children now-a-days. In fact, kids who get perfect scores on the ACT and SAT tests come from a home-schooled environment. Past National Spelling Bee champions have been home-schooled. My wife who is getting her teacher's aide certificate in the spring wrote a paper defending home-schooling. My mother, who is very intelligent, wished she had home-schooled her kids. I probably would have done better in my studies especially after my 9th grade year when I started getting bored with school.
I do have a 7 year old step-daughter who has a learning disability. When we lived in Effingham,IL they did very little in helping her with her problem. However, when we moved to Springfield,IL, the school district has bent over backwards to make sure that there was a plan to help my step-daughter overcome her learning disability. She has been in her new school for 4 months and one can already see a change in her behavior and confidence.
Both my wife and I go to college so the public school is our only option. As a libertarian I believe in school choice and the government has no right to interfere in a family's ecision on how they should educate their children. Home-schooling is a great option people should explore. Throwing more money into a broken system isn't going to help educate our future. I also feel that parents need to be more pro-active in their childrens' education. I know for a fact that there isn't a lot in the way of African-American history taught in many school districts. I plan on teaching my son, who is bi-racial and my step-daughter who is white, about black history. I didn't learn my African-American history in school, my mother taught me some, but I researched what I know now. I ran for school board back in Effingham,IL in 2003 and I was astonished to see that the school board members were appoving texts without knowing what these books entailed.
Some people think that home-schooled children are sheltered. I say they are more advanced than public schooled children. There are plenty of after school programs that non-governmnetal organizations provide for all children that entail socialization. One could take a field trip to the museums, libraries and other cultural centers to enhance a child's learning. I would love to take my family to Kansas City one day and see the Negro League Museum. There is so much to learn that the public or parivate schools can not teach. Even if you do not agree with home-schooling, at least take a more pro-active role in your child's education because in the long run it will be worth it. Keep home-schooling an option-you may need to uase it one day. I am happy to see people giving home-schooling a chance and I am sure they aren't disappointed with their decision.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Congressman Shimkus and Why He Needs to GO!

A letter I recieved from Congressman Shimkus:

Dear Friend:

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for contacting me regarding the USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2005 (HR 3199).

Prior to September 11, 2001, there were restrictions on our intelligence agencies that do not make sense in today's world and placed severe restrictions on investigating potential terrorists. The PATRIOT Act and this reauthorization allow U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, and the CIA to all share information on their ongoing investigations.

This law increases penalties for attacks against railroad and mass transit; combats terrorism financing; and takes many other actions that are intending to prevent terrorism. Our law enforcement agencies need the tools necessary to fight terrorists as much as they need appropriate tools to fight drug dealers, organized crime, and gangs.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales recently wrote that this bill "...equips law enforcement with the tools needed to fight terrorists, and it also includes new civil liberties protections..." He added, "The Patriot Act has been successful in helping prevent acts of terrorism in many ways."

Among the protections contained in the bill are just a four year extension on the wire tapping provisions, while most other provisions are made permanent; additional reporting to the court under these wiretap orders; additional protections regarding business records under section 215, including a guaranteed right to legal counsel; and continued Congressional oversight.

Another important provision for southern Illinois is the inclusion of the Methamphetamine Epidemic Elimination Act into this bill. Those provisions include restrictions on the sale of meth ingredients, include cold medicines, and tougher penalties for meth traffickers and smugglers.

Purchasers of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine would be required to show identification and sign a log when purchased from behind the pharmacy counter.

This conference report passed the House with bipartisan support, 251-174, and awaits Senate approval before going to the President for his signature into law.


Member of Congress

Congressman Skimkus is basically a big government neo-conservative and votes for everything the Bush administration wants him to. At least he's consistant- consistantly votes on bills which destroy our freedoms and civil liberties. I wonder when it was the last time Mr. Shimkus read the Bill of Rights or the Constitution? It hasn't changed since he was in high school, has it? I anticipated that he would vote for the revision of the Patriot Act, that was a no-brainer for him. But he also voted to send troops to Iraq, voted for the National ID Act, voted for CAFTA voted against getting out of the UN, voted for increasing the debt ceiling and voted to increase the federal government. He is no friend of freedom. A change in the guard is in order, he's doing a disservice to the constituents in the 19th District of Illinois. The Republican Party would be a lot better if they would just get rid of the neo-cons like Shimkus and let a few more Ron Paul types in their ranks. If Mr. Skimus doesn't change his tune, I will be running against him in the 2008 Republican primaries. It'll give the people in the district a choice to vote for real change.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

New Restrictions on Cold Medicine Purchases in Illinois

Just about every state now has a restriction on the sale on cold medicine that are used to make meth. From what I understand there are many ways of making meth and by making restrictions like this will force meth makers to develop meth by finding ingredients to replace cold medicines that are now legal. After the 15th of January, if you want to buy cold medicine you'll be forced to sign your name and address plus you will be restricted to buying 7500 mg of that product every 30 days. The police will have access to these records up to TWO years! What is at stake is that anyone who sells these products will be another arm of the law enforcement agency and a regular participant in eliminating privacy rights.Better get your cold medicine now before you forfeit your privacy rights. When they make laws like this its usually a short term cure for a long term problem. The real problem is not the manufacturing of meth, it's the socio-economic status of where meth is manufactured. The places where meth labs are rampant are places where unemployment is higher than the state's average. Of course our politicans aren't smart enough to realize that trend. They are so quick to criminialize human behavior rather than solve the real underlying problem. Illinois was rated 46th out of 50 states in economic prosperity. The real reason why people turn to the illegal drug trade like meth is because it's a quick money maker. Jobs leave Illinois quicker than they come in and if there are no jobs, how are bills going to get paid? Don't get me wrong, I don't like knowing that my neighbor might be manufacturing meth but I can understand why they could be doing it. I just don't like the idea that one big mistake on their part and they could risk the lives of many around them. There was an incident back in Effingham where a hotel was blown to bits killing 2 people because someone was cooking meth in the bathtub.

The story is below.

New restrictions on cold drugs OK'd
Governor signs bill to fight making of methamphetamine


Published Thursday, November 17, 2005

Starting Jan. 15, people who want to buy some kinds of cold or sinus medicine in Illinois will have to sign a log book and show photo identification.

The new state law, signed Wednesday by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is aimed at hampering people who manufacture methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug that can be produced with household ingredients.

A key ingredient is ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, which are found in some versions of Sudafed and other medications.

An initiative of Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the new law is meant to discourage out-of-staters from flocking to Illinois to buy the pills they need to produce methamphetamine. States surrounding Illinois, including Iowa, Missouri and Indiana, already have passed laws that require consumers to sign a log and show photo ID before buying those products.

Under the Illinois measure, customers seeking to buy products with ephedrine or pseudoephedrine must write down their names, addresses, dates and times of purchases, product names and amounts bought. Log books containing the information will be kept by retailers for at least two years. The books will be confidential, but police can inspect them and make copies.

The law also will bar anyone younger than 18 from buying cold or sinus medicine with ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.

In addition, it prohibits customers from buying more than 7,500 milligrams of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine in a 30-day period. That amount exceeds the amount a person could take in 30 days, Madigan said.

Violators could face fines of up to $5,000 and conviction on a misdemeanor or a Class 4 felony, punishable by one to three years in prison.

Methamphetamine is a particular problem in rural parts of Illinois. In January 2003, a meth lab exploded in Pekin, destroying an eight-unit apartment complex and leaving about a dozen people homeless.

Tazewell County State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz said Wednesday the new law "should have a positive impact by reducing the number of manufacturing labs." But he warned that one consequence could be an increase in the amount of meth that flows into Illinois from outside sources, such as Mexico.

Illinois has enacted several meth-related laws in recent years. For instance, a law that took effect on Jan. 1, 2005, requires stores that sell medications containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to keep them behind a counter or in a locked case. That law permits people to buy just two packages of cold medicine at a time.

Adriana Colindres can be reached at 782-6292 or