Articles From the August 1994 Unification News
Home Church, Hometown... Homeschool!
by Leslie Holliday-Newton, MA
It seems that many brothers and sisters have heard something, directly or indirectly, about recent events in Newton, MA. Please know that it is impossible to describe concisely--or in words, even--what has happened here. Just imagine that God threw a lightning bolt at my hometown, and that I suddenly found myself in the direct path of about 60,000 volts. Conducting that amount of energy, and trying constructively to utilize all the spiritual information that was carried in the electrical current, was a challenging and odd experience, to say the least. It permanently and radically altered my consciousness. (I can just hear some of you, who know me well, laughing--that I was nuts to begin with--and at a loss for words?-- HA!)
Just a word about Newton, to place it on the geographic and spiritual map. Newton is a suburb located on the Charles River about ten miles west of Boston. It was the first place in America where the Native Americans converted to Christianity. Rev. John Eliot actually lived with the Massachusetts Indians, and preached to them in their native language of Algonquian. He had an abiding friendship with Waban, the sachem of the tribe, and they came to be known as the "Praying Indians." Newton is special because not one drop of blood was shed in the settlers' acquisition of land: the native people and the settlers abided with each other in peace. I believe that God loves Newton soil for this reason.
Later, in the 1900s, Newton came to be known as the "Garden City," and it represented all the very best of America. It was the perfect suburb--conservative but generous, prosperous, religiously and culturally alive, with a large population of professional people and strong families. Its public school system was just about the best in the nation, and it was traditionally considered a mecca for excellence and innovation in education.
In recent decades, the city was increasingly infiltrated in its politics and institutions by far-left-wing ideologues. Gradually it became a stronghold of knee-jerk liberalism and a pro-diversity policy mill. It continues to support financially and re-elect into office its openly homosexual Congressman, Barney Frank. The atmosphere here had become so flattened, one-sided, and intolerant of divergent opinion that our inventor friend, Dr. Dae Sik Kim, said with a wry grin, "Welcome to the People's Republic of Newton." And there you have it.
Subsequently, the effort to battle condom availability, comprehensive sex education, mastery learning (OBE--Outcomes-Based Education), social engineering agendas and all their concomitant propaganda artistry on the local level raised an international leviathan from the deeps of unbelievable proportion. Absolutely everyone came after me and my co-workers with their jaws wide open and their tongues lashing- -Planned Parenthood, SIECUS (Sex Information and Education Council of the US), the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), the ADL (Anti- Defamation League--talk about irony), the League of Women Voters, the MA Board of Education, the MA Department of Public Health, the Fenway Community Health Center (representing the entire gay community of Boston), Temple Israel (representing the reformed Jewish community of Boston), and the local PTAs. These organizations united through local left-wing activists and rolled into the neighborhood with big tanks, guns, and lots of money (for conferences, advertising, and candidates) to counter a perceived--and real--threat to their ideological framework. One of my best friends--a sweet Jewish girl, married to an Italian--was called a "mean-spirited white Christian supremacist." The League of Women Voters dubbed me the "hobgoblin of HIV education" after I discussed the sexual politics of Margaret Sanger in a local newspaper article.
During the campaign, I helped to organize conferences, symposia, TV and radio talk shows, and wrote many newspaper articles and letters to the editor. Although useful and exciting, this was not the most important aspect of my experience. What was most breathtaking was the infusion of all events with providential meaning, and the assistance of noble and historic personages from the spirit world. They hovered like a cloud, guided with unseen hands, whispered ingenious directions, and offered deepest comfort as my heart passed through the straits of public torture. For the first time, with a gasp of surprise, I felt my spiritual lungs breathing with love, in unison with the rhythm of the spirit world. My spiritual eyes really opened and began to work in unison with my physical eyes. Right-left, up- down, and back-front were wobbly and uncoordinated much of the time, but with practice, I realized that I had been reborn as a person of new dimension. Understanding, inheriting and restoring the missions of the providential figures of history is our blessing and privilege, in home church and in hometown, and draws us to the bosom of True Parents. May God bless them. I cannot adequately express my gratitude.
On March 31, 1993, 500 people attended the symposium, "What's Wrong with Sex Education, Anyway?" at the Brown Middle School, featuring three very well known public speakers. Never in its history had Newton witnessed such an electrifying, mind-bending, public challenge to its policies. One activist subsequently wrote a letter of support describing it as "the shot heard 'round the world." I stayed up all that night at a local hotel, talking to Dr. Judith Riesman, one of the speakers, who is an expert on child pornography, and Dr. Sam Blumenfeld, a well-known author and educator. They told me stories about happenings in the higher echelons of government, business and bureaucracy that made my hair stand up. Sam urged me, very strongly, to take my eldest daughter, Gracie, out of public kindergarten. Inwardly I groaned, pleading to God, "Really? Do I have to do this, really?" One of the only friends I had made among the mothers at my children's private preschool was a woman who was homeschooling her older children, and she often shared her experiences with me. I reflected that God must have been preparing me.
On the very next day, I was fifteen minutes late to pick Gracie up from school. Children whose parents are late are supposed to be escorted to the principal's office to wait, but Gracie wasn't there. I asked the secretary where she was, and she said--get this: "I don't know where Gracie is. She went home with somebody." "WHAT?!?" I said (as quietly as I could). Well, I found Gracie--she had gone home with a friend's German aupair--but that was her last day in public school. She had been dismissed by a trained assistant who was the wife of the school committee representative from my ward. How could she not have known that it was a city-wide policy not to release children to anyone except the parent without a written note? This public school system, which is paying thousands of dollars for child abuse prevention programs and fancy experts, completely failed even basic common sense. I had to take it as an unmistakable sign from God.
Gracie got a couple of months of respite from formal schooling while I tried to deal with some of the fallout from the symposium explosion. Her little spirit had gotten badly pretzled up, and even a little nasty, from dealing with the heavy, negative elements in the spiritual atmosphere at school. It took her a little time to decompress, but by summer, she was relaxed and radiant--her old self again. As I watched this dramatic transformation, I knew that Gracie had to be educated in a Completed Testament Age atmosphere--one of freedom and light. Talk about pioneering--I rolled up my sleeves, and let God take me by the seat of the pants for yet another astonishing flight of providence.
Inevitably, September came. We opened each day with songs, prayer, point 5 of "My Pledge," and the Pledge of Allegiance. Then we read the Children's Bible, read a story about Father's life, or used one of the storybooks or coloring books created by church members. After this, we studied Korean, using Hee Seo Park's series, Hangul, The Korean Language.
I purchased an advanced kindergarten curriculum package from A Beka Book, a Christian ministry out of Pensacola, FL, and taught Gracie, age six and my son, Chosun, age five, phonics, reading, writing and arithmetic together. Each day we learned simple phonics rules, practiced writing, and had reading circles--which were mostly held in Mom's lap. We made up games to make some of the drills and exercises more fun. We also used some very colorful grade 1 Math Unlimited workbooks by Harcourt, Brace, Janovich, which were donated to us by a friend. And, I purchased some useful manipulatives from a catalogue published by Cuisenaire.
For science, we used the A Beka materials, and a bunch of other books by publishers like Usborne, Merrill and Holt. These were also donated to us by friends. We did many little hands-on experiments--like making electromagnets, growing crystals, and sculpting models of cells. For social studies, we used an interactive workbook by A Beka called Community Helpers, and did special units on the history of Newton and Native Americans. We also read two standard grade 1 textbooks on families and neighborhoods. Chosun was unable to keep up with most of what Gracie and I did with science and social studies, but from time to time he would join in and learn something.
We did other, additional units. In Environment & Health, we learned about calling 911, fire safety, pollution and recycling, made chore charts, studied the food groups, took long walks, and practiced yoga. In Home Economics, we learned about doing laundry, vacuuming, cleaning toilets, baking and sewing--very useful. In one sewing project, Gracie made a beautiful purse (with a little help). We did Community Service projects--everything from picking up trash to visiting sick friends and donating to GoodWill; and, we did Art projects--everything from collage to playdough and watercolor. We used the Bastien Series to study piano at home; Gracie studied at Boston Ballet Company, while Chosun attended the Charles River Gymnastics Academy. Last but not least, we took seventeen field trips in all. I'll never forget Chosun sitting in the cockpit of a 747 at Logan Airport, with his little hand on full throttle, nor will I ever forget Gracie's wide-eyed fascination when we attended a Native American Pow-Wow. Never a dull moment. Mom nearly departed this earth when June came--but, we had fun.
In order to understand the legal framework for homeschooling, and to get information and support, our family joined the Home School Legal Defense Association, which is based in Virginia. In return for a $100 annual fee, HSLDA will defend your family in case of any legal challenge; but more, HSLDA sends your family a bi-monthly newsletter, which is filled with information about what is happening legally in the homeschooling community in your state and throughout America. HSLDA has done some very important work in protecting the right to homeschool.
Also, in the spring our family joined a local group--the Rev. John Eliot Home School Support Group. You can imagine that I love the name.
We have gone on a number of outings and get-togethers with parents and children from this group.
Finally, I thought it might be a good idea to create a "Homeschool Page" in the Unification News, so that homeschooling members can share resources. I know that many parents have been doing it much longer than I have, and probably have many good experiences and helpful, tried-and-true ideas to write about. It would be great if members who are teaching at church schools could contribute their expertise on curriculum development, and impart some of their wisdom about the shimjung aspects of education. Thank you for sharing my story. Next time I hope to hear yours.
Leslie Holliday can be contacted at: 280 Grove St, Apt 1, Newton, MA 021664.
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