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Yes, I Am a Religious Homeschooler

By Bill Pride
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #47, 2002.

Government officials have scrutinized homeschooling from academic capability to social success. What new criticisms have they come up with?

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Bill Pride

When the homeschooling movement began, the NEA and their cronies claimed there was no way a child could get a good education at home. Homeschoolers countered by getting standardized test scores way above average. They said, “Yes, homeschoolers can do better academically, but what about socialization?” What about socialization indeed! Between CAP or scouts, music lessons, martial arts classes, volunteering, etc., a homeschooler has contact with the real outside world almost every day, even more than public school kids.

Having worn out these straw men almost completely, educators are trying a new tack. “Homeschooled children aren’t being given their politically correct right to decide for themselves what belief system they will adopt.”

Rob Reich, of the Department of Political Science at Stanford University, said in a paper presented at last fall’s annual meeting of the American Political Science Association:

    Children are owed as a matter of justice the capacity to choose to lead lives—adopt values and beliefs, pursue an occupation, endorse new traditions—that are different from those of their parents. Because the child cannot him or herself ensure the acquisition of such capacities and the parents may be opposed to such acquisition, the state must ensure it for them. The state must guarantee that children are educated for minimal autonomy.

Reich suggests that, “while the state should not ban homeschooling it must nevertheless regulate its practice with vigilance.” Reich’s proposed regulations include “periodic assessments that would measure their [homeschoolers’] success in examining and reflecting upon diverse worldviews.”

Is this true, parents? Do you present your own worldview to your children as the correct worldview? If you do, you fall under Mr. Reich’s condemnation. Whatever you believe, he thinks it is wrong for you to teach it to your children. He thinks children must be instructed by the schools in the politically-correct secular worldview, relativism—that there are no right or wrong values, no black and white, only shades of grey.

Reich wants children to experience the vaunted autonomy of the schools: walking in little straight lines from place to place, regimenting their lives by the sounding of a bell like Pavlov’s dogs, being coerced by their peers to dress alike and act alike, having their unique interests ridiculed and enthusiasm crushed by their classmates and sometimes their teachers.

This is the real reason why I homeschool my children—to give them a firm moral and spiritual foundation on which to build a responsible adult character, and to spare them the pressure that will be brought to bear on them in public school to conform to the relativism of the world. I will continue to train them at home until they have the maturity and understanding to make truly autonomous decisions.

Yet, it has been reported recently that when people are polled about their reasons for homeschooling, most respondents no longer give “religious conviction” as their #1 reason. In the interest of not “mixing causes,” I also find myself listing other reasons ahead of my religious convictions when talking to people about my reasons for homeschooling. As society becomes less Christian-friendly and more Christian-hostile, it becomes easy to strategize that people will tolerate reasons such as violence in the schools and declining academic quality more readily than religious reasons. We want to keep homeschooling separate from the stereotype lots of people have of Christians as wild-eyed fanatics. But we may no longer have the time for this tactic.

Ken Connor, president of Family Research Council, wrote in FRC’s Washington Update email newsletter:

    Another FRC supporter reports that he attended a conference at Harvard University last week [late May 2002] on “Undermining Terrorism.” The University hosted a session in which the panel spent half the time talking about Evangelicals and Fundamentalist Christians with clear implications that religious conservatives were part of the problem. Dr. Jessica Stern tried to associate pro-lifers with the 9-11 terrorists.

These Harvard folks set national policy, migrating back and forth continuously between Washington, DC, and Cambridge, MA. We should take them seriously. They are trying:

  1. to marginalize Christian and other religious homeschoolers as no longer significant in number, and
  2. perhaps to make a play to limit or abolish freedom of religion in homeschooling.

Christian homeschoolers need to stand up and be literally counted.

If the schools were guaranteed 100 percent safe I would still homeschool. If the schools were 100 percent effective at teaching academics I would still homeschool. Raising my children as Christians is my primary responsibility as a parent before God and my ultimate reason for homeschooling.

If you agree with me, please agree also on this. From now on, when someone asks why you homeschool, if your real reason is religious conviction, just say so.

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