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?