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Education Reporter

Hope for America's Future

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By Orlean Koehle

As a public school substitute teacher in Santa Rosa, California, I often come home discouraged about the future of our nation. While there are exceptions — students who dress and act properly and really do care about learning — the majority of students I teach in junior high and high school are apathetic, rude, unkempt, improperly dressed, disrespectful, and have a care less attitude about learning or getting decent grades.

Many also have a care less attitude about the nation they live in or the blessings they enjoy from living in this free country. They show little respect for America and the flag that represents it. They know little about our history or form of government. If the school still asks students to begin the day by standing for the pledge of allegiance, often I am the only one saying the words.

As a former speech, drama, and journalism teacher, I am saddened that many students today cannot speak without the use of "valley or rap language." Every other word is "like, you know, man, dude" and, unless severely reprimanded, they throw in a few four-letter words, too. To get them to read and to write a good paragraph on any subject is like pulling teeth.

You can imagine my delight upon finding a large group of American youth who still know how to act, dress, and speak properly — youth who have a love for reading, writing, and learning and who are grateful to live in this free country, to be called Americans, and are prepared with the knowledge to speak out and defend what they believe about their country and their Christian faith.

I was asked to be a judge for a home-school speech competition held in Santa Rosa, CA, at the Santa Rosa Bible Church, March 24-25. There were 149 students competing, from the ages of 12-18. They represented various speech and debate clubs from northern and southern California that were part of the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA). The Santa Rosa club hosting the speech contest is named "Touche." The group consists of 20 families involved with 30 students.

If you need to recharge your batteries and to renew your faith in the future of our nation, this is the place to come. I was impressed by the outstanding young people I heard. They were well-prepared, articulate, and neat in their appearance. The young men were dressed in suits and ties and the young ladies wore suit jackets and skirts, or pantsuits, and heels.

There were ten entry categories; most students entered 3 or 4 events. One can imagine how much time and preparation that would take.

I served as a judge both days for five different meets. I heard contestants in humorous oratory, impromptu apologetics, original oratory, and extemporaneous.

To give you an idea of how sharp these young people are, following are the apologetics and the extemporaneous category where young people speak on subjects as "Why the Bible is different from any other book," "Why I know the Bible is true and was not created by people who just wanted to start their own religion," "Why I believe the Scriptures are the authority foundation," "Why I know the Old Testament is not myths made up by the Jews to start their own nation and prove their superiority," "How the Bible is different from the Koran."

In the extemporaneous category, difficult topics were presented in an outstanding way: "What is the European Union's biggest economic problem currently?" "Is China a boon or a bane of the U.S. economy?" "Is the Palestinian authority bound for bankruptcy?" "Has the GOP become the 'Grand Over-Spending Party'?" "What are the economic consequences of the growing Spanglish culture in America?" "Will the current budget deficit cripple the US economy?"

These students were amazing in how they could speak on these difficult topics with just five minutes preparation.

Winners from the Santa Rosa tournament qualified to go on to another contest in California. Those winners will go to the national tournament that will be held the first week in June at Patrick Henry College in Virginia. There are four qualifying tournaments that take place in California.

The NCFCA was started ten years ago by Mike Farris and Christy Shipe, attorneys from the Home School Legal Defense Fund, as a way to help prepare home schooled youth to defend what they believe in and a way to give them fun interaction with other home schooled youth. This is the NCFCA mission statement:

"The National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA) believes that formal speech and debate can provide a means for home schooled students to learn and exercise analytical and oratorical skills, addressing life issues from a Biblical worldview in a manner that glorifies God. To provide these opportunities to home schooled students, NCFCA shall facilitate qualifying tournaments throughout the country and the annual national tournament."

The NCFCA certainly has achieved its mission. The young people who competed in the speech events I judged were all outstanding with analytical and oratorical skills based on a strong Biblical worldview that is critically needed at this time in our nation and our world.

Orlean Koehle is the State President of Eagle Forum of California.

For more information about NCFCA, go to: www.NCFCA.org.

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