Half-Pint House Goes to Washington?

Many of you won’t believe me because of today’s date, but I’ve been asked to be part of a new “Presidential Council on Homeschooling, a focus group of homeschoolers who provide thoughtful response and recommendations to President Obama concerning his plans for education reform” (no website yet; I checked).

I don’t know how they got my name (and I have no idea how much it cost to print this formal invitation, which I’m dying to post for all to see but my stupid camera won’t work – what does an “F6 error” on a Canon SureShot mean?), but the invite and explanation from Obama’s new Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, seems legit (if not, this must be one very expensive practical joke).

Two thoughts keep running through my head: either this is a big governmental scheme to throw a bone to the homeschool community (of which I have no desire to be on the receiving end), or maybe President Obama’s #1 guy on education really is open to thinking and doing things differently with regard to education in this country (not that there’s a need or anything). Why is the first option a lot more believable than the second? And why am I already slightly nauseated by the idea of speaking “on the record” about what I think about homeschooling (blogging is so much less…accountable).

I’m supposed to respond by the weekend (nothing like notice, but I guess they’re behind the eightball, educationally-speaking), and next week begins the first of a series of online discussions that I’m supposed to “attend.” Apparently, Mr. Duncan will be on the first one, with President Obama digitally “dropping in” to welcome and thank us for whatever it is we’re going to be doing for him.

From there, things get complicated: presumably because graduation season is coming up in another month or so, they’re working on an initiative now to launch in May that will highlight Mr. Duncan’s plans for education reform. Because of the impending deadline and the importance of the initiative (education reform, remember, was a large plank in Obama’s campaign platform), they want to fly all the members of the focus group (committee? gaggle?) to Washington for a week-long conference and an all-smiles picture with the President and Mr. Duncan at the White House (please tell me they’re not going to call it “The White Homeschool” for a day).

There are a series of meetings (digital and live) planned for the summer that I’m going to have to attend in the midst of everything else, and at some point there’s a “listening tour” they want us to be part of that will take place in the fall (all expenses paid by taxpayers, of course). It’s ironic how all this counseling on homeschooling will impact the homeschooling schedule around here, but maybe that’s why they need this group – they obviously don’t get that the homeschool teacher can’t just call in sick.

Craig and I talked about it last night and, while he’s skeptical about the politics behind the whole thing, he encouraged me to give it a shot as it’s not everyday that Uncle Sam wants homeschoolers. I’m still kind of dumbstruck by the idea (and even more floored how I made the list – my writing with God’s World News? my blog? my elegant Washingtonian style?), but I really wish Craig could go with me to translate my random ramblings like Aaron did for Moses – not that I’m Moses or anything, but you get what I’m saying.

What do you think? Should I do this or let someone else play the game? Any thoughts?
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14 thoughts on “Half-Pint House Goes to Washington?

  1. chickadee says:

    how did they get your name?
    like you, i’m not sure your words will mean much if they already have their agenda and you are just the token player on this side. however, there’s a chance you’ll influence someone with your words.

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  2. Sally D. says:

    I say go for it! If they don’t listen to you, you can always say that you tried to make a difference. Plus, what a great way to show the kids about government at work (both good and bad).

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  3. kristy says:

    whoa.
    even the thought of “officially” putting my passion in homeschooling in front of the Department of Education makes my stomach a bit, ok, a lot, queasy…
    that said, someone needs to do it, right?!
    let us know how to pray! 🙂

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  4. Sheial says:

    I so often don’t want to do things like this, and yet, if we aren’t willing to stand up and speak up for what we believe in, what will happen? Well, we can all see what has happened in so many instances. I’m not a home schooler myself – we have chosen a private Christian school for our kids, but I adamantly believe that I have the right to choose the best education for my kids, and that does include the possibility of homeschooling. I will be glad to pray for you. And yes, I get what you are saying about Moses, and yes, God is more than able!

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  5. Wallun says:

    I think President Obama is the nicest man on earth and he was really smart picking you to be on this panel. Go for it my amigo…

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  6. Charity Johnson says:

    As an educator/teacher/old person who saw the advent of humanistic education, has had the inside track on teachers’ certification in states, etc. I suggest this is a royal waste of time. The trend for the past several decades has been is a ‘bait-and-switch’ by depts. of (X). Homeschoolers are being courted now that the central government has no direct influence over homeschoolers. Unless it gains ground, it cannot hope to manage, organize and control it. Public institutions are made to survive-let’s not ‘feed the monster.’
    The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Rule on!

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  7. Jill L. says:

    Let’s see. You’re a homeschooler and I know you, a little anyway. That’s enough for me. I want you to go. Add to it I think you’re rational, reasonable, and level-headed, so I think you’ll make a good impression. They’re paying, right?

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