Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Are You Researching the Candidates?
This is rather long, but please read it because there IS a point! For those of you that may not know this, my wife Tisha and I Home School, so education is a big issue for us (just like small business is too). As part of my job, I spend a lot of time researching blogs to keep my readers on my business blogs, Jim Sharp and Learning 2 Network, up to date on new ideas about growing their businesses and increasing their sales. But I also read a number of Home School blogs as well. One of my favorites is Spunky Home School! I've found her to be one of the most veracious diggers I've ever seen when it comes to researching information; so when she wrote a few posts about Huckabee, she got my attention.
If you take the time to read over some of her blog, you'll find that she has some concerns about Huckabee's support for Home Schoolers in Arkansas. Here is a quick excerpt:
"Mike Huckabee was elected Governor of Arkansas in 1996. In 1997, he helped ease restrictive homeschool laws in Arkansas. While governor, Huckabee also appointed the first homeschooler to the Arkansas state school board. As a homeschooler, I give Mike Huckabee credit for these achievement. It looked like he was off to a great start in Arkansas. That success, however, was short lived. Just two years later, in 1999, Mike Huckabee signed into law House Bill 1724 that undid many of those initial gains." Click here to read all of this post.
Well, as a Home Schooler I wanted to know more! So I asked around to see who I might be able to meet with to ask some questions. I live in South Carolina and Huckabee has been around town. This lead to the discovery that JoNell Caldwell (the Home Schooler appointed to the Arkansas state school board Spunky mentioned above) would be speaking to Home Schoolers at a restaurant down the street from my home. So off I went!
While at the meeting I asked Mrs. Caldwell about House Bill 1724. She explained that while this Bill WAS a compromise, Huckabee signed the law because the alternative was the greater of two evils. My understanding is that the legislature was trying to push for stricter testing, and if a Home Schooler could pass the test, they'd be forced back into Public School. Huckabee was very much against this testing and had beaten it back, but if he hadn't signed this Bill, he would be back to square one and would have had to fight the same battle again. There was some concern that he may not be able to defeat the stricter testing again. Understand also that even though he was elected as Governor at this time, he was still viewed by the legislature as the accidental Governor because of his assent to office after the resignation of Jim Guy Tucker. He was also on the wrong side of the party line.
I also asked about the IBO. See what Spunky had to say about this:
"With the approval of SB 1024 now Public Act 2152, Mike Huckabee officially brought the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) to Arkansas high schools and gave control of the education of many Arkansas school children to an international entity based in Geneva, Switzerland." Click here to read all of this post.
Mrs. Caldwell didn't have an answer for this one, but asked for my e-mail and told me she'd look into it. I gave her my card, we spoke for a little while and said our good byes. A couple of days later she sent me an e-mail. This is what it said:
"I spoke with Dr. Terri Hardy, Governor Mike Huckabee's liaison to education concerning some of your concerns.
In Arkansas the local school districts choose the curriculum, not the state. Gov. Huckabee is a proponent of local control. A very large district, North Little Rock had chosen the IBO route instead of the AP route for high school. There was a law suit Gov. Huckabee inherited from the Clinton years that said the schools in AR were not equal in their course offering and the courts demanded equity and adequacy that brought about much change in our state. One of the outcomes of the lawsuit was that all schools had to offer AP courses. North Little Rock was already using the IBO, which was not approved at the time and the legislature passed the bill allowing IBO to be used in place of AP if a district so chose in order to accommodate North Little Rock."
She went on to suggest that if I comment on Spunky's Blog to encourage her and others to call Jerry Cox with the Arkansas Family Council in Little Rock, AR. He is not affiliated with the campaign and is the leading advocate for home schoolers in Arkansas.
I've learned two things from all of this. The first is that you have to read all blogs with your eyes open. Just like Spunky said in one of her posts about Mike Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association:
"I didn't just accept what they [HSLDA] said as the truth [about Huckabee]. That's tempting, but it's too easy."
I couldn't just accept what she said either, I needed to learn more and I did. I don't like that there was a compromise on House Bill 1724, but life is full compromises. I understand why he did it. I also don't like the IBO being used in place of the AP in North Little Rock, but that was a local issue. Each decision had a reason good or bad. It's our job to find out the reason and then judge whether it was appropriate.
The other thing I learned is just how little interest we have in what we say we are passionate about! I was one of only five Home Schoolers at this meeting. FIVE!!!! Spunky, if you're reading this, doesn't that just boil your blood?!! If we want to make a difference, we need to be involved! If you're passionate about something and you have questions, go find some answers! Whether you're a business person like me, or a Home Schooler like Spunky, we have a responsibility to be as informed as we can!
So what should we do? Read blogs! Read mine and Spunky's! Read a lot of them! Read the news! Watch the news! Go hear the candidates! Talk with the candidates if you can! Don't be afraid to ask questions! Vote! I don't care if your Republican or Democrat. VOTE!! Regardless of what you hear some people saying, your voice still counts!
If you'd like to receive e-mail updates for Jim Sharp or Learning 2 Network, just drop me a note at Jim@wolffind.com and I'll put you on my list. Thanks for letting me rant! I'll go back to blogging about my family now. :)