Grassroot Perspective – Jan. 9, 2003

article top

“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– Wendy McElroy, Research Fellow at the Independent Institute
(, discusses the paranoia that stole Christmas in a column (12/17/02). At one point she says: “This is the ‘legacy” of terrorism and the brutal crimes that occur in our society, but it is also the legacy of the media who presents these stories without pause or counter-balancing stories, as though brutality and not decency defined our culture,” McElroy writes. “The media is helping to manufacture what may become a self-fulfilling prophecy: A society prepared to wage war on every issue and every front, including against ourselves.”

GRIH comment: Decency does and must define our culture. To lose that is to lose the “war.”

– The Evergreen Freedom Foundation(EFF) reports that Chile, the first
nation in the western hemisphere to set up a social security system and the first to reform it using individual investment accounts is again a pathfinder. It has become the first to use individual accounts in an unemployment insurance system. Read about it in a Policy Highlighter written by Bill Conerly, PhD

GRIH comment: Great possibilities here for federal and Hawaii
innovations to enhance individual productivity.

– EFF also notes that from September 2001 to September 2002 the severe anti-business climate in Washington state caused a loss of 55,000 private sector jobs, while their government added 4,500.

GRIH comment: And we thought we were the only ones with problems. If our own climate was better maybe we could draw some of that high class talent (Boeing, Microsoft etc.) to our shores.

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

The October issue of Vermont magazine carries a timely article on home schooling by Melissa Pasanen. She reports that home schooling has gone from 100 pupils 1980 to 2,122 at last count. There are numerous reasons for this 20-fold growth over the past two decades.

The most obvious reason is that many parents do not have much respect for academic offerings at their local public school. Another major reason is the purging of moral values from many public schools as a supposed infringement on the First Amendment. Other reasons include lax school discipline and harassment by other students, “medicalizing” children to get Medicaid funds for the school, and the subjection of students to political indoctrination by teachers enamored of non-judgmental diversity, feminism, socialism and other such causes.

The Vermont Department of Education requires that homeschooling families enroll their children with the state, and provide a content outline for the various subject areas studied. One of several varieties of assessment is required after each year’s study. Some homeschooling parents believe that the state jerks them around a bit too much. According to the state, however, over 80 percent of all homeschool programs are found to be adequate on first application, and almost all of the rest qualify with only modest revisions.

Two 1998 laws have also enriched homeschooling opportunities in Vermont. One required public schools to collaborate with homeschooled children by letting them into specialized courses and extracurricular activities. Another allowed the approval of “virtual ” schools like Oak Meadow School in Putney.

The 800 pupils of Oak Meadow are scattered all over the U.S. and abroad. The school provides K-12 curriculum, educational materials, one-on-one pupil mentoring by experienced teachers (also scattered all over the U.S) via phone and emails, progress assessments, and record keeping. The actual learning occurs in the pupils’ homes — the pupils never appear in Putney.

In 1998 Oak Meadow secured the status of an approved independent school, but with one unique proviso: Vermont’s 90 tuition towns are forbidden to pay tuition for pupils enrolled there. It is the only approved non-sectarian independent school in Vermont that labors under this restriction.

The reason for the restriction is perfectly clear. The educational
establishment is terrified that pupils might find distance learning more attractive than attending their local public school, especially now that homeschooled children can participate in basketball, band, drama and advanced placement courses at the public school. If pupils in tuition towns enjoyed a virtual school option, pupils dissatisfied with their public school would soon want the same option. There would be a pupil hemorrhage, and for each departing pupil the public schools would lose Act 60 funding.

The cost of a year’s education through Oak Meadow’s program is around $1,200, plus the one time cost of buying a computer ($800) if the family doesn’t have one. The cost of a year’s education in Vermont’s public schools is now approaching $10,000. If the taxpayers can save $8,000 for every pupil who chooses a virtual school, why not encourage that? Especially when, in Oak Meadows’ case, their pupils on the average perform in the 80th percentile or above on standardized tests, far above the level of public schools?

Remarkable educational technology is now cheaply available. The Internet is awash with text, features, encyclopedias, audio, and video. The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, headed by former CalTech biochemist Dr. Arthur Robinson, markets a set of 22 CDs and a course manual. When the nine Saxon math books are added, the pupil has an academically rigorous 12-year education at a total cost of less than $500 (plus, of course, the necessary computer and printer.) And the materials can be used again with other children.

The total cost of a $500 per year tax credit for 6,000 pupils is only $3
million. If 4,000 of these pupils departed public schools for homeschooling, and the state no longer needed to pay the $5,566 block grant on their behalf, the Education Fund would show a $20 million annual net saving.

Now there’s something worth doing both for the kids and for the
taxpayers. While they’re at it, the legislature ought to remove the
restriction on approved distance learning schools, and let them compete like all other independent schools.

Will the public school establishment scream? Of course it will. That’s
because their concern is (public) Schools First! It ought to be
SchoolChildren First!

The above article is quoted from Ethan Allen Institute

”Evergreen (Today’s Quote)”

In December 2002 the staff of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy,
Midland, Michigan was asked: “Which Freedoms mean the most to you and why?” Here is one answer we particularly liked: “The right of self-government. No other freedoms are secure unless government remains subordinate to the consent of the governed. No matter how clumsily we may exercise this right, however burdensome we find the responsibility, no more liberating form of social organization has existed in all human history.” See

”’See Web site”’ ”’for further information. Join its efforts at “Nurturing the rights and responsibilities of the individual in a civil society. …” or email or call Grassroot of Hawaii Institute President Richard O. Rowland at or (808) 487-4959.”’