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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sovereign Man: on watching the Presidential debate.

By Simon Black September 27, 2016 Santiago, Chile 

I used to watch wrestling when I was a kid… I come from the age of Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, and Randy “Macho Man” Savage. 

Huddling close to the television each weekend, my friends and I would cheer for our favorite stars and their signature moves. 

My dad ruined it all one day when I was about 6 years old; he pulled me aside and said casually, “You know it’s all fake, right?” 

I was stunned. It seemed so real… the matches, the hits, the drama. 

Every time Hulk Hogan would be at the point of near-exhaustion, and then rally to victory from the chants and cheers of the crowd, I had believed it all. 

When I actually started paying attention it became obvious that professional wrestling was a farce staged purely for entertainment purposes. 

Funny thing– even though I knew it was fake, I continued to watch wrestling for several more years, until I was probably 10 or 11. It was, after all, still entertaining. 

That’s how I felt last night watching the Presidential debate. 

It was pure entertainment… a guilty pleasure that ranks somewhere between Wrestlemania and stuffed-crust pizza. 

I know a lot of people feel the same way, that debates are meaningless vacuums of intelligent discourse which are simultaneously entertaining and awkward to watch, like witnessing two intoxicated lovers engage in a very public, dramatic breakup. 

Sadly, this is what passes as a critical component of the political process in the most advanced economy in the world. 

I recognize that people feel they have an important choice to make, whether to give the system a deserved enema or maintain the status quo… and that perhaps they’ll glean some insight into the candidates’ agendas by watching the debates. 

In reality you’ll find more substance in a fourteen year old’s Twitter feed. 

There’s no talk of actual plans, metrics, priorities, or details… just a bunch of zingers and platitudes. 

That’s not how things are supposed to work in the real world. 

I run several companies– agriculture, manufacturing, publishing, and now banking, with a total of roughly 350 employees. 

Our management teams lay out concrete plans to the stakeholders articulating the specific goals and vision of each business, how we achieve those objectives, and what specific metrics can measure our performance. 

Plus regular updates report on our progress, any deviations to the plan, and whether or not we are on-time and on-budget. 

This isn’t rocket science or some radically innovative concept. It’s what any competent, ethical business manager does. 

But that’s not how government works, and it’s not how the political system works. 

Whenever I visit the US, people frequently ask me who I’m voting for. 

It came up over dinner on Saturday night in Connecticut with Peter Schiff and his wife Lauren. 

I typically joke that Trump is the only qualified candidate because he’s declared bankruptcy so many times… and with nearly $20 trillion in government debt, you want to have someone in office who knows which paperwork to file. 

But my honest answer is that I don’t vote. 

For starters, it doesn’t actually matter who’s in office. 

The government spends nearly the entirety of the tax revenue it collects just to pay interest on the debt and cover mandatory entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. 

They could literally cut everything we think of as government, from the military to the Internal Revenue Service, and it would barely make an impact. 

Plus, even the government’s own optimistic projections show that the debt will continue to grow at a much faster pace than the economy itself. 

So any choice ultimately leads to the same set of extreme economic consequences. 

But it’s more than that. 

As I explained to my friends, voting only validates a rotten system that has not only abandoned its primary stakeholders, but is now rigged against them. 

Besides, what are we really voting for anyhow? 

People typically cast a ballot for the person they believe will bring the most prosperity. 

But this is ludicrous when you think about it. Can we really expect that some politician thousands of miles away will magically increase our incomes? 

No. WE are the ones who have the most influence to grow our own prosperity. 

From learning new skills to making better investments, starting businesses, cutting taxes… we have nearly unlimited ways to become more prosperous and provide a better life for our families. 

So the truth is that there’s only one viable candidate to make your dreams and ambitions a reality. That’s you.

Until tomorrow,



Simon Black

Founder, SovereignMan.com

Doctor's Experience with the Afterlife

When a neurosurgeon found himself in a coma, he experienced things he never thought possible—a journey to the afterlife.
BY DR. EBEN ALEXANDER


As a neurosurgeon, I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences. I grew up in a scientific world, the son of a neurosurgeon. I followed my father’s path and became an academic neurosurgeon, teaching at Harvard Medical School and other universities. I understand what happens to the brain when people are near death, and I had always believed there were good scientific explanations for the heavenly out-of-body journeys described by those who narrowly escaped death.

The brain is an astonishingly sophisticated but extremely delicate mechanism. Reduce the amount of oxygen it receives by the smallest amount and it will react. It was no big surprise that people who had undergone severe trauma would return from their experiences with strange stories. But that didn’t mean they had journeyed anywhere real.
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Although I considered myself a faithful Christian, I was so more in name than in actual belief. I didn’t begrudge those who wanted to believe that Jesus was more than simply a good man who had suffered at the hands of the world. I sympathized deeply with those who wanted to believe that there was a God somewhere out there who loved us unconditionally. In fact, I envied such people the security that those beliefs no doubt provided. But as a scientist, I simply knew better than to believe them myself.

In the fall of 2008, however, after seven days in a coma during which the human part of my brain, the neocortex, was inactivated, I experienced something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death.

I know how pronouncements like mine sound to skeptics, so I will tell my story with the logic and language of the scientist I am.

Very early one morning four years ago, I awoke with an extremely intense headache. Within hours, my entire cortex—the part of the brain that controls thought and emotion and that in essence makes us human—had shut down. Doctors at Lynchburg General Hospital in Virginia, a hospital where I myself worked as a neurosurgeon, determined that I had somehow contracted a very rare bacterial meningitis that mostly attacks newborns. E. coli bacteria had penetrated my cerebrospinal fluid and were eating my brain.

When I entered the emergency room that morning, my chances of survival in anything beyond a vegetative state were already low. They soon sank to near nonexistent. For seven days I lay in a deep coma, my body unresponsive, my higher-order brain functions totally offline.


Then, on the morning of my seventh day in the hospital, as my doctors weighed whether to discontinue treatment, my eyes popped open.

'You have nothing to fear.' 'There is nothing you can do wrong.' The message flooded me with a vast and crazy sensation of relief.PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY NEWSWEEK; SOURCE: BUENA VISTA IMAGES-GETTY IMAGES

There is no scientific explanation for the fact that while my body lay in coma, my mind—my conscious, inner self—was alive and well. While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: a dimension I’d never dreamed existed and which the old, pre-coma me would have been more than happy to explain was a simple impossibility.

But that dimension—in rough outline, the same one described by countless subjects of near-death experiences and other mystical states—is there. It exists, and what I saw and learned there has placed me quite literally in a new world: a world where we are much more than our brains and bodies, and where death is not the end of consciousness but rather a chapter in a vast, and incalculably positive, journey.

I’m not the first person to have discovered evidence that consciousness exists beyond the body. Brief, wonderful glimpses of this realm are as old as human history. But as far as I know, no one before me has ever traveled to this dimension (a) while their cortex was completely shut down, and (b) while their body was under minute medical observation, as mine was for the full seven days of my coma.

All the chief arguments against near-death experiences suggest that these experiences are the results of minimal, transient, or partial malfunctioning of the cortex. My near-death experience, however, took place not while my cortex was malfunctioning, but while it was simply off. This is clear from the severity and duration of my meningitis, and from the global cortical involvement documented by CT scans and neurological examinations. According to current medical understanding of the brain and mind, there is absolutely no way that I could have experienced even a dim and limited consciousness during my time in the coma, much less the hyper-vivid and completely coherent odyssey I underwent.

It took me months to come to terms with what happened to me. Not just the medical impossibility that I had been conscious during my coma, but—more importantly—the things that happened during that time. Toward the beginning of my adventure, I was in a place of clouds. Big, puffy, pink-white ones that showed up sharply against the deep blue-black sky.

Reliving History: The search for the meaning of the afterlife is as old as humanity itself. Over the years Newsweek has run numerous covers about religion, God, and that search. As Dr. Alexander says, it's unlikely we'll know the answer in our lifetimes, but that doesn't mean we won't keep asking.

Higher than the clouds—immeasurably higher—flocks of transparent, shimmering beings arced across the sky, leaving long, streamerlike lines behind them.

Birds? Angels? These words registered later, when I was writing down my recollections. But neither of these words do justice to the beings themselves, which were quite simply different from anything I have known on this planet. They were more advanced. Higher forms.

A sound, huge and booming like a glorious chant, came down from above, and I wondered if the winged beings were producing it. Again, thinking about it later, it occurred to me that the joy of these creatures, as they soared along, was such that they had to make this noise—that if the joy didn’t come out of them this way then they would simply not otherwise be able to contain it. The sound was palpable and almost material, like a rain that you can feel on your skin but doesn’t get you wet.

Seeing and hearing were not separate in this place where I now was. I could hear the visual beauty of the silvery bodies of those scintillating beings above, and I could see the surging, joyful perfection of what they sang. It seemed that you could not look at or listen to anything in this world without becoming a part of it—without joining with it in some mysterious way. Again, from my present perspective, I would suggest that you couldn’t look at anything in that world at all, for the word “at” itself implies a separation that did not exist there. Everything was distinct, yet everything was also a part of everything else, like the rich and intermingled designs on a Persian carpet ... or a butterfly’s wing.

It gets stranger still. For most of my journey, someone else was with me. A woman. She was young, and I remember what she looked like in complete detail. She had high cheekbones and deep-blue eyes. Golden brown tresses framed her lovely face. When first I saw her, we were riding along together on an intricately patterned surface, which after a moment I recognized as the wing of a butterfly. In fact, millions of butterflies were all around us—vast fluttering waves of them, dipping down into the woods and coming back up around us again. It was a river of life and color, moving through the air. The woman’s outfit was simple, like a peasant’s, but its colors—powder blue, indigo, and pastel orange-peach—had the same overwhelming, super-vivid aliveness that everything else had. She looked at me with a look that, if you saw it for five seconds, would make your whole life up to that point worth living, no matter what had happened in it so far. It was not a romantic look. It was not a look of friendship. It was a look that was somehow beyond all these, beyond all the different compartments of love we have down here on earth. It was something higher, holding all those other kinds of love within itself while at the same time being much bigger than all of them.

Without using any words, she spoke to me. The message went through me like a wind, and I instantly understood that it was true. I knew so in the same way that I knew that the world around us was real—was not some fantasy, passing and insubstantial.

The message had three parts, and if I had to translate them into earthly language, I’d say they ran something like this:

“You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.”

“You have nothing to fear.”

“There is nothing you can do wrong.”

The message flooded me with a vast and crazy sensation of relief. It was like being handed the rules to a game I’d been playing all my life without ever fully understanding it.

“We will show you many things here,” the woman said, again, without actually using these words but by driving their conceptual essence directly into me. “But eventually, you will go back.”

To this, I had only one question.

Back where?

The universe as I experienced it in my coma is ... the same one that both Einstein and Jesus were speaking of in their (very) different ways.ED MORRIS / GETTY IMAGES

A warm wind blew through, like the kind that spring up on the most perfect summer days, tossing the leaves of the trees and flowing past like heavenly water. A divine breeze. It changed everything, shifting the world around me into an even higher octave, a higher vibration.

Although I still had little language function, at least as we think of it on earth, I began wordlessly putting questions to this wind, and to the divine being that I sensed at work behind or within it.

Where is this place?

Who am I?

Why am I here?

Each time I silently put one of these questions out, the answer came instantly in an explosion of light, color, love, and beauty that blew through me like a crashing wave. What was important about these blasts was that they didn’t simply silence my questions by overwhelming them. They answered them, but in a way that bypassed language. Thoughts entered me directly. But it wasn’t thought like we experience on earth. It wasn’t vague, immaterial, or abstract. These thoughts were solid and immediate—hotter than fire and wetter than water—and as I received them I was able to instantly and effortlessly understand concepts that would have taken me years to fully grasp in my earthly life.

I continued moving forward and found myself entering an immense void, completely dark, infinite in size, yet also infinitely comforting. Pitch-black as it was, it was also brimming over with light: a light that seemed to come from a brilliant orb that I now sensed near me. The orb was a kind of “interpreter” between me and this vast presence surrounding me. It was as if I were being born into a larger world, and the universe itself was like a giant cosmic womb, and the orb (which I sensed was somehow connected with, or even identical to, the woman on the butterfly wing) was guiding me through it.

Later, when I was back, I found a quotation by the 17th-century Christian poet Henry Vaughan that came close to describing this magical place, this vast, inky-black core that was the home of the Divine itself.

“There is, some say, in God a deep but dazzling darkness ...”

That was it exactly: an inky darkness that was also full to brimming with light.

I know full well how extraordinary, how frankly unbelievable, all this sounds. Had someone—even a doctor—told me a story like this in the old days, I would have been quite certain that they were under the spell of some delusion. But what happened to me was, far from being delusional, as real or more real than any event in my life. That includes my wedding day and the birth of my two sons.

What happened to me demands explanation.

Modern physics tells us that the universe is a unity—that it is undivided. Though we seem to live in a world of separation and difference, physics tells us that beneath the surface, every object and event in the universe is completely woven up with every other object and event. There is no true separation.

Before my experience these ideas were abstractions. Today they are realities. Not only is the universe defined by unity, it is also—I now know—defined by love. The universe as I experienced it in my coma is—I have come to see with both shock and joy—the same one that both Einstein and Jesus were speaking of in their (very) different ways.

I’ve spent decades as a neurosurgeon at some of the most prestigious medical institutions in our country. I know that many of my peers hold—as I myself did—to the theory that the brain, and in particular the cortex, generates consciousness and that we live in a universe devoid of any kind of emotion, much less the unconditional love that I now know God and the universe have toward us. But that belief, that theory, now lies broken at our feet. What happened to me destroyed it, and I intend to spend the rest of my life investigating the true nature of consciousness and making the fact that we are more, much more, than our physical brains as clear as I can, both to my fellow scientists and to people at large.

I don’t expect this to be an easy task, for the reasons I described above. When the castle of an old scientific theory begins to show fault lines, no one wants to pay attention at first. The old castle simply took too much work to build in the first place, and if it falls, an entirely new one will have to be constructed in its place.

I learned this firsthand after I was well enough to get back out into the world and talk to others—people, that is, other than my long-suffering wife, Holley, and our two sons—about what had happened to me. The looks of polite disbelief, especially among my medical friends, soon made me realize what a task I would have getting people to understand the enormity of what I had seen and experienced that week while my brain was down.

One of the few places I didn’t have trouble getting my story across was a place I’d seen fairly little of before my experience: church. The first time I entered a church after my coma, I saw everything with fresh eyes. The colors of the stained-glass windows recalled the luminous beauty of the landscapes I’d seen in the world above. The deep bass notes of the organ reminded me of how thoughts and emotions in that world are like waves that move through you. And, most important, a painting of Jesus breaking bread with his disciples evoked the message that lay at the very heart of my journey: that we are loved and accepted unconditionally by a God even more grand and unfathomably glorious than the one I’d learned of as a child in Sunday school.

Today many believe that the living spiritual truths of religion have lost their power, and that science, not faith, is the road to truth. Before my experience I strongly suspected that this was the case myself.

But I now understand that such a view is far too simple. The plain fact is that the materialist picture of the body and brain as the producers, rather than the vehicles, of human consciousness is doomed. In its place a new view of mind and body will emerge, and in fact is emerging already. This view is scientific and spiritual in equal measure and will value what the greatest scientists of history themselves always valued above all: truth.

Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, M.D. To be published by Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Copyright (c) 2012 by Eben Alexander III, M.D.

This new picture of reality will take a long time to put together. It won’t be finished in my time, or even, I suspect, my sons’ either. In fact, reality is too vast, too complex, and too irreducibly mysterious for a full picture of it ever to be absolutely complete. But in essence, it will show the universe as evolving, multi-dimensional, and known down to its every last atom by a God who cares for us even more deeply and fiercely than any parent ever loved their child.

I’m still a doctor, and still a man of science every bit as much as I was before I had my experience. But on a deep level I’m very different from the person I was before, because I’ve caught a glimpse of this emerging picture of reality. And you can believe me when I tell you that it will be worth every bit of the work it will take us, and those who come after us, to get it right.

Walking Fends Off Disability, And It’s Not Too Late To Start

Katherine Hobson, NPR, September 26, 2016

People who have reached their later years may think it’s primarily a time to relax, not to increase their physical activity. Not so. Previous research has suggested that exercise can improve memory and reverse muscle loss in older adults, among other benefits. And a study out Monday finds that a regular program of physical activity reduces the time spent with mobility-limiting disability.

Researchers took more than 1,600 sedentary people between 70 and 89 years old who had some functional limitations, but who could walk about a quarter of a mile in 15 minutes or less, unassisted by another person or a walker. (Canes were OK.)

Half of the participants got a health education program involving regular in-person sessions and some stretching exercises, while the other group was told to aim for 150 minutes of aerobic activity as well as strength, flexibility and balance training both at the study’s facilities and at home. “Walking was the cornerstone of the program,” says Thomas Gill, a professor of geriatrics at the Yale School of Medicine and an author of the study, which appears in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study followed participants for about 2.7 years, and found that the physical activity program cut the amount of time that people spent with a “major mobility disability”–defined as being unable to walk a quarter mile–by 25 percent compared to the education program. Previous findings from the same study showed that the exercise program lowered the risk of becoming disabled in the first place; this one showed that it sped recovery from an episode of disability and lowered the risk of subsequent episodes.

“They’ve done a really nice job of showing the incredible power of physical activity,” says Bradley Cardinal, a professor of kinesiology at Oregon State University who wasn’t involved with the study. “It’s the secret ingredient to successful aging in terms of quality of life.” An editorial accompanying the study, by the University of California, San Francisco’s Patricia Katz and the University of South Carolina’s Russell Pate, also noted that people who engage in physical activity have a lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, depression, cognitive impairment and functional decline.

The exercise program pretty closely followed the government’s recommendations for all adults, including older ones: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week, plus two strength sessions that hit all the major muscle groups.

But most Americans don’t get that much exercise, and that becomes increasingly true as people age. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 28 percent of those 75 and up meet the recommendation for aerobic activity, and only 8 percent also did the suggested amount of strength training.

Cardinal says older adults need to realize that exercise can greatly improve their quality of life by maximizing function as long as possible. But he says that many believe that older age is for relaxing and that physical activity is somehow dangerous or unnatural. That belief “is pervasive among older adults,” he says, even though for many of them, meeting the minimum requirements “is doable.”

Semantics can help. “We try to frame this as more physical activity than exercise,” says Gill. “We talk with older folks and many say, ‘I can’t exercise, but maybe I can become more physically active.’” Study participants were advised to “start low and go slow,” and some were even able to get rid of their canes after six months of exercise, which Gill says they found particularly rewarding.

There are some basic behavioral strategies for getting yourself to get moving, no matter your age, including giving yourself an incentive to change and engineering your environment to encourage the activity.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Scanning Software Deciphers Ancient Biblical Scroll

AP, Sept. 21, 2016 JERUSALEM–The charred lump of a 2,000-year-old scroll sat in an Israeli archaeologist’s storeroom for decades, too brittle to open. Now, new imaging technology has revealed what was written inside: the earliest evidence of a biblical text in its standardized form.

The passages from the Book of Leviticus, scholars say, offer the first physical evidence of what has long been believed: that the version of the Hebrew Bible used today goes back 2,000 years.

The discovery, announced in a Science Advances journal article by researchers in Kentucky and Jerusalem on Wednesday, was made using “virtual unwrapping,” a 3D digital analysis of an X-ray scan. Researchers say it is the first time they have been able to read the text of an ancient scroll without having to physically open it.

“You can’t imagine the joy in the lab,” said Pnina Shor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who participated in the study.

The digital technology, funded by Google and the U.S. National Science Foundation, is slated to be released to the public as open source software by the end of next year.

Researchers hope to use the technology to peek inside other ancient documents too fragile to unwrap, like some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and papyrus scrolls carbonized in the Mt. Vesuvius volcano eruption in 79 CE. Researchers believe the technology could also be applied to the fields of forensics, intelligence, and antiquities conservation.

The biblical scroll examined in the study was first discovered by archaeologists in 1970 at Ein Gedi, the site of an ancient Jewish community near the Dead Sea. Inside the ancient synagogue’s ark, archaeologists found lumps of scroll fragments.

The synagogue was destroyed in an ancient fire, charring the scrolls. The dry climate of the area kept them preserved, but when archaeologists touched them, the scrolls would begin to disintegrate. So the charred logs were shelved for nearly half a century, with no one knowing what was written inside.

Last year, Yosef Porath, the archaeologist who excavated at Ein Gedi in 1970, walked into the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls preservation lab in Jerusalem with boxes of the charcoal chunks. The lab has been creating hi-resolution images of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest copies of biblical texts ever discovered, and he asked researchers to scan the burned scrolls.

“I looked at him and said, ‘you must be joking,’” said Shor, who heads the lab.

She agreed, and a number of burned scrolls were scanned using X-ray-based micro-computed tomography, a 3D version of the CT scans hospitals use to create images of internal body parts. The images were then sent to William Brent Seales, a researcher in the computer science department of the University of Kentucky. Only one of the scrolls could be deciphered.

Using the “virtual unwrapping” technology, he and his team painstakingly captured the three-dimensional shape of the scroll’s layers, using a digital triangulated surface mesh to make a virtual rendering of the parts they suspected contained text. They then searched for pixels that could signify ink made with a dense material like iron or lead. The researchers then used computer modeling to virtually flatten the scroll, to be able to read a few columns of text inside.

“Not only were you seeing writing, but it was readable,” said Seales. “At that point we were absolutely jubilant.”

The researchers say it is the first time a biblical scroll has been discovered in an ancient synagogue’s holy ark, where it would have been stored for prayers, and not in desert caves like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The discovery holds great significance for scholars’ understanding of the development of the Hebrew Bible, researchers say.

The text discovered in the charred Ein Gedi scroll is “100 percent identical” to the version of the Book of Leviticus that has been in use for centuries, said Dead Sea Scroll scholar Emmanuel Tov from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who participated in the study.

“This is quite amazing for us,” he said. “In 2,000 years, this text has not changed.”

Thursday, September 22, 2016

How Homeschooling Is Changing in America

By Kyle Greenwalt, The Conversation, September 18, 2016

As children head back to school, an increasing number of their homeschooled peers will be starting their academic year as well. Homeschooling in the United States is growing at a strong pace.

Recent statistics indicate that 1.5 million children were homeschooled in the United States in 2007. This is up significantly from 1.1 million children in 2003 and 850,000 children in 1999.

The homeschooling movement first emerged in earnest during the 1980s. Back then it was largely led by evangelical Christians. But as the movement has grown, it has also changed. Today’s homeschooling families may increasingly welcome cooperation with their local public school districts. In my own research, I have seen how diverse homeschoolers now are. This diversity challenges any simplistic understanding of what homeschooling is and what impact it will have on the public school system.

So how do we understand this evolution in American education?

In fact, homeschooling was common up until the late 19th century. Most children received a substantial part of their education within the home. In the late 19th century, states started passing compulsory attendance laws. These laws compelled all children to attend public schools or a private alternative. In this way, education outside the home became the norm for children. 

It was in the 1970s that American educator John Holt emerged as a proponent of homeschooling. He challenged the notion that the formal school system provided the best place for children to learn. Slowly, small groups of parents began to remove their children from the public schools.

By the 1980s, homeschooling families had emerged as an organized public movement. During that decade, more than 20 states legalized homeschooling. For the most part, evangelical Christians led these battles. Organizations such as the Home School Legal Defense Association, founded in 1983, provided the necessary legal and financial backing for these families.

At the time, homeschooling was seen to be in conflict with secular school systems. Religious parents came to define the public face of the homeschooling.

Today, homeschooling is becoming part of the mainstream. It is legal in all 50 states. In addition, a growing number of states are making attempts to engage the homeschooled population for at least part of the day.

For example, 28 states do not prevent homeschooled students from participating in public school interscholastic sports. At least 15 more states are considering “Tim Tebow Laws”–named after the homeschooled athlete–that would allow homeschoolers access to school sports.

The overall homeschool movement is also much more diverse. For example, sociologists Philip Q. Yang and Nihan Kayaardi argue that the homeschool population does not significantly differ from the general U.S. population. Put another way, it is not really possible to assume anything about the religious beliefs, political affiliations or financial status of homeschooling families anymore.

Data from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) provide further corroboration. In 2008, the NCES found that only 36 percent of the homeschooling families in their survey chose “the desire for religious or moral instruction” as their primary reason for their decision to homeschool. At the same time, other reasons, such as a concern about the school environment, were just as important to many homeschool families.

So, what are the reasons behind this expansion of the homeschool movement?

My research shows that this has been fueled, at least in part, by changes in the public school system. For example, changes in technology have brought about the rise of online charter schools, which utilize remote online instruction to serve their students.

This means that more students are educated in their home at public expense. California, Ohio and Pennsylvania have led the way in this regard. In 2006, it was estimated that 11 percent of Pennsylvania’s charter schools had online instruction. What is noteworthy is that 60 percent of the students in these schools had previously been homeschooled.

In addition, homeschoolers in states such as Michigan have access to public school interscholastic sports. That’s not all. They can, in addition, opt to take certain public school offerings.

For example, homeschoolers can choose to attend school for part of the day, and take Advanced Placement courses in any range of subjects. Such courses are popular with many families because they allow students to earn college credit while still in high school.

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