Could you tell?
Maybe not, because I haven’t talked about it much here. Out of two hundred posts on my blog, there are exactly seven under the homeschooling subject line. There is no particular reason for that except that I blog about what I hope may be interesting in my life from day to day. If something interesting happens in connection with our homeschooling, I’ll write about it. If it is the “same old, same old,” then I won’t bore you with it.
The truth is, we’ve been doing this a looooong time. I’ve been to the seminars, participated in homeschool groups, co-opped with other families, read and wrote on the homeschool internet message boards, and defended educational choice both publicly and privately. Now- it’s just our life. It’s what we do and I don’t need to discuss it or defend it anymore. This change is also due to the environment in which we now homeschool. It is so much more friendly and accepting of what is nothing more than true liberty. It no longer surprises anyone at the library or the grocery store check-out when one of my kids lets it be known that he is homeschooled. It used to be if we were in town before 3pm during the week, someone would inevitably ask them, “why aren’t you in school today?” We rarely hear that question any more.
We began homeschooling with our first born around 1989. Twenty years ago! At that time, homeschooling was ILLEGAL in Michigan (where we lived) and Iowa unless the teaching parent was a certified teacher. Was there a little paranoia in the homeschooling community at that time? You bet. For good reason. While there were legal battles being waged for the right to educate children in the manner deemed best by parents, there were parents from the frontlines sitting in jail cells. At the homeschool seminars we attended sessions on how to respond if a truant officer appeared at the door. I was not able to allow my children to play outside during school hours, even if they had completed all their schoolwork, for fear that some “good citizen” would call the truant officer or the Children’s Services and report us for neglect. We lived in real fear of having our children taken away, -real because we knew there were parents who had suffered that tragedy in the battle for educational choice. It took years of legal battles all over the country to win the right to homeschool in every state of the U.S.
Homeschooling is no longer illegal but that doesn’t mean the right could not be taken away at any time. There was a concerted effort to do just that not long ago in California. In Europe, homeschooling is illegal in Germany and now in Switzerland, with children being separated from their jailed parents. The families in Germany are not even allowed to leave the country in search of liberty as so many historic pilgrims did before.
The homeschool movement is huge compared to what it was when we started with our children. The choices for curriculum, methods, co-ops, and other assistance are vast. Many different people from all walks of life choose to homeschool for a myriad of reasons. Is everyone good at? No. But I whole-heartedly support everyone’s right to educational choice! If America is going to be truly free we must be allowed to make the choices necessary for the education of our children and not be forced to send them only to schools that the government mandates.
Freedom of religion – freedom from having government-mandated churches- is taken for granted. We can bring up our children in the religion of our choice (though there are many who would like to see that right taken away also). True liberty also includes freedom from government mandated education.
The idea that if the people who are dissatisfied with the system stayed in the public (government) school system and fought for change where needed that it would improve and save that system is a naive one. Many thousands of homeschoolers began their journeys doing just that, fighting the system that they thought could be improved, only to discover their efforts were futile and always would be. If anyone thinks that a parent can make a change in the public school system by addressing the local school board has never tried to have a pornographic book removed from a school. If the government school system is so fine, why have so many left it? If the problems were so easy to fix, why haven’t they been? My father-in-law was a public school superintendent and he learned the hard way that the problems in the government school system are so deeply rooted and embedded that the only way he could be effective for change was to leave it and work as a lobbyist in the legislature for educational freedom, supporting homeschoolers bucking the law while also teaching in parochial schools.
Everyone makes choices in life for different reasons. I support a parent’s right to choose the public school system for their child as well as for a parent who chooses another educational method. That is liberty for all. Our choice to homeschool is by no means a judgment on anyone else’s choices. Don’t infringe on my rights and I will support yours also.
This little diatribe is not meant to cover all the bases on homeschooling. There are volumes of arguments and information available by writers more capable than me. It is meant to respond to a post on another blog and to be informational to anyone visiting here from there.