The Christian Bard

Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

In Defense of Homeschooling

In regard to a divisive homeschool editorial published last month, this was my response. The editor, after about 900 letters, responded that he was really talking about protecting our children by adding government regulations to homeschooling. A freedom of homeschooling is that the government should not be involved. Any time the civil government gets involved in unconstitutional areas of life, that area not only loses its liberty, but the quality diminishes.

"We could quibble and quarrel all day about exemplary and substandard students in the homeschool vs. public school systems. The underlying question is not the quality of the education. The true debate is over two issues: 1) Who is responsible for educating children? and 2) What is education? After these have been addressed, one can proceed to the issue of quality.
According to the author, the government is responsible for a child’s education and education is training in the facts and behavior acceptable to the government.

Homeschoolers have First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to homeschool, because education is religious -- the educator is training the students in a particular worldview. Every school and every teacher teaches from a certain worldview. Homeschoolers believe that parents are primarily responsible for educating their children, and that the definition of education is up to the parent. We could argue the nature of that education but in the USA, parents have the freedom to choose. To mandate that the government "close the loopholes" (which is code for "imposing government regulations in those areas where the government has no control but would really like to dominate") is to strip educational and religious liberty out of the hands of parents and undermine the role that parents play in the education of their own children. We have the freedom to raise our children in our own ways and beliefs. The author has the same liberty, and he is welcome to believe in state-run, tax-funded education, but he is not welcome to spread the kind of inflammatory drivel he wrote for the paper.

As for what education is, to those of us who choose to homeschool because we believe God holds us accountable and responsible for the training of our children, our goal is to raise Godly children who will "stand in the gates" (i.e. be responsible and respectable citizens) and "understand the times" (I Chronicles 12:32). The liberty we enjoy in America is a thorn to those in favor of big government. The same liberty that supports the freedom of speech, which allows us to debate this issue, is the same liberty that supports educational choice. However, this freedom does not relieve the author of his accountability for the puerile and flawed description of homeschooling given in his editorial.

Now that we have proclaimed liberty for educational practices, we can proceed to the issue of quality. Hard work is fundamental to ANY area of life. We could quarrel about the quality of small biz, big biz, government offices, private organizations, churches, not-for-profit organizations, etc, but quarreling is a dead end. Hard and smart work are keys, though not guarantees, to success in anything. Quality demands effort. No responsible homeschooling parent (or student) would claim that homeschooling is a piece of cake. It's obvious that the author got his information from a) an irresponsible homeschooling parent, b) some source that dislikes homeschooling, or c) a three-year-old. None of these qualify for a valid source of information. Freedom of the press does not justify sloppy journalism. If the author had surveyed the families of the 23,455 homeschooled children he notates, he would have painted a different picture."