The Secular State’s Homeschooling Crackdown
All around the Western world parents are moving to homeschooling, and all around the Western world governments are getting nervous about all this, if not down-right hostile to it. Neither trend should come as a surprise. As to the first, many parents are sick and tired of the joke that is public education.
Not only do plenty of kids come out uneducated, illiterate and innumerate, but increasingly the public school system is becoming just a hothouse for force-feeding kids politically correct propaganda. Anti-faith and anti-family values are being pushed all the time in the modern school system, and plenty of parents are appalled at this.
Thus they are moving to homeschooling to ensure that their children get a proper education, coupled with decent values. And the results have been consistently shown to be much better. As just one example, a recent study found that homeschooled college students significantly outperformed their peers.
As one news report states, “Among the major findings: Homeschooled students earned a higher first-year GPA (3.41) when compared to other freshman (3.12). Homeschooled students earned a higher fourth-year GPA (3.46) when compared to other freshman who completed their fourth year (3.16). Homeschooled students achieved a higher graduation rate (66.7 percent) when compared to the overall student population (57.5 percent).
“Other research has shown that parents spend on average $500 per child, per year to homeschool. In comparison, the average public school spends over $10,000 per child, per year. Homeschooling is proving itself everyday to be a credible and cost-effective method of educating children.”
The second trend is also fully explicable. Secular leftist states know that if they can get access to children from early on, and for many years, they can easily instil their agenda, their values, and their worldview into the children. And as the state’s ideology and worldview becomes increasingly hostile to that of the Judeo-Christian worldview, then you can expect states to definitely frown upon homeschooling.
Plenty of quotes can be produced from those who have insisted that the school system become a PC indoctrination system. Consider just two. Charles Francis Potter, signatory to Humanist Manifesto I, said this: “Education is thus a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of humanism. What can the theistic Sunday-schools, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?”
Or as John Dunphy wrote in a 1983 issue of The Humanist, “The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new – the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism.”
And many recent reports can be mentioned of governments cracking down on those parents who dare to educate their own children in a manner they deem appropriate, and not the state. Consider the opening words of one alarming report about all this: “Think about it. Out of all the world regimes over the past century, which ones do you think would be most opposed to homeschooling? Nazi Germany, communist Russia, and nations enforcing Islamic Sharia Law first come to mind.
“And what is the common tie to all of these? Control. Unfortunately, with socialist agendas sweeping the globe, the mindless conformity of youth through indoctrination at government-run schools to the government’s point of view on social, political, and moral issues is a top priority of many nations falsely aspiring for a global community of ‘tolerance.’
“But today, the suppression of parental rights to teach and influence their own children isn’t restricted to overtly fascist regimes. Take a look at Sweden, home of Ikea and Volvos. A couple months ago in June, attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund and the Home School Legal Defense Association filed Johansson v. Sweden with the European Court of Human Rights so that that the Swedish government will return a seven-year-old homeschooled boy to his parents. Dominic Johansson was forcibly seized by Swedish authorities from his parents in June 2009 after they had boarded a plane in their move to India. The reason? He was homeschooled.
“No warrant was issued before taking him into state custody, and the family was charged with no crime. Young Dominic was abducted because officials deemed home instruction to be an unsuitable method of raising a child, insisting that the government knows better about how to rear children. Dominic is now in foster care and attends a government school. Heartbreakingly, his parents are only allowed to see their son for one hour every five weeks.
“To ‘justify’ their action, Swedish authorities cited the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and quite shockingly, the White House and some members of Congress have expressed interest in ratifying this authoritarian treaty so that this type of government control could be exercised on our shores.”
And some famous cases of persecuted German homeschooling families continue to make the news. As one recent story describes this, “After police barged into the Busekros family home in Bavaria, the family’s 15-year-old daughter, Melissa, was placed in a psychiatric facility, and later long-term foster care.
“The police, the girl said, told her she had been brainwashed by her conservative evangelical parents, who home-schooled her. ‘They never even tested me to know for sure that I had a mental problem,’ said Busekros, now 19. The moment Busekros turned 16 and could legally choose where she would live, she slipped through a window at her foster home and returned to her parents.
“Earlier this year, Elke Schupp missed a court date to answer charges of home-schooling her two young boys. Later, when a police car with lights flashing pulled up behind her on a German highway, Schupp said, she panicked and slowed down long enough to send her boys running off into a forest.
“When police caught up with them, she said, she lost custody for good. ‘I told them I wouldn’t home-school again,’ said Schupp, a nonreligious woman who said she simply wanted to nurture her children on her own, without state interference, ‘but they don’t believe me’.”
All this sounds like stuff straight out of North Korea or Cuba. Instead, it is happening all over the Western world. The crackdown on homeschooling families is simply part of a bigger crackdown. Various states, more or less fully committed to the agenda of secular humanism, will clamp down on anything it considers to be in opposition or resistance to its agenda.
That is why it is using all sorts of nice-sounding laws (such as discrimination, vilification and hate-speech laws) to harass and persecute anyone or anything that seeks to say no to its ever-encroaching reach. This is a war against freedom as much as it is a war against religion and religious freedom.
Parents have a fundamental right to raise and educate their children as they see fit. Of course fundamentalist atheists like Dawkins regards this as a form of child abuse. But that simply tells us how much he and others like him really value freedom, democracy and freedom of conscience.
The war against homeschooling and homeschoolers will undoubtedly only get worse in the days ahead. It is ultimately about a war of worldviews. And as always, we must never forget that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
36 Replies to “The Secular State’s Homeschooling Crackdown”
I thank you again for publicising these appalling acts of fascism. Throughout the so-called “free” world the concept of democracy has been systematically ruined.
There is only one democracy on this planet, and that is Switzerland. No political party would even dare to try to bring in laws against home schooling because they know that the Swiss people have the constitutional right to call for a veto referendum on the matter and the result would be an overwhelming rejection in favour of the freedom of parents to decide what is best for their children. And the result would be binding.
Dominic Baron, NZ
What about socialization? A continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.
I’d rather my children learn their identity, values and behavior from their parent in accordance with God’s word than to learn it from our Godless schools.
I am glad we have so much freedom to homeschool in Victoria but it is something we must protect if we don’t want to see our state and country follow in the ways you have outlined above.
Students that I’ve taught who have been homeschooled are almost without fail the most well adjusted and studious, a delight to teach. These stories break my heart.
Child abuse has risen dramatically under secularism, starting with their violent death in the womb and continuing throughout their infancy and their sexualised adolescence. Public schools are its state sanctioned version. Secularism’s much vaunted liberal autonomy and human rights really are just so much smokescreen for their itching desire to dominate.
The non-violent resistance of these parents blows the smokescreen away and reveals what it is they really want – and their use of language is shown up for what is – corruption.
We should join these parents, homeschool or find good schools that know what secularism is, refuse to watch what the conditioners want us to watch, and buy what they want us to buy. Vote the ciphers out of political office, go to Church as often as possible (which is one of the most effective political statements we can make).
Thank you Bill for continuing to show secularism and its advanced political liberalism in its true light. God bless.
We all get mad with things like this. We must always stand up for ourselves and not be pushed around, at the same time continue to be good loving people. Just out of interest, if America has the First Amendment, what do we in Australia have?
“I am glad we have so much freedom to homeschool in Victoria”
Kylie, sadly we lost a lot of that freedom in 2006-07 when the previous government passed the Education Reform Act, and required all parents to register with the Curriculum Assessment Authority / Department of Education before home educating their children.
Prior to that, parents were free to educate their children as they chose, either by sending them to a school of their choice, by engaging say a private tutor, or by doing it themselves.
If parents were challenged about the absence of their children from school (ie. technically truant) it was an adequate defence to prove that the parents were providing them with “regular and efficient instruction in some other manner”, and observing similar attendance requirements to a government school.
All of that is gone now and parents must show that they have been given a piece of paper – absent which they are guilty of an offence. There is no inspection system in place as there is in other States, but that’s only a “budget and personnel problem”.
There is presently no additional requirement to conform to a particular curriculum, to use material from a limited range of suppliers (eg. “authorised curriculum providers”) or to supply some restricted content, but as with all government “licences” and registrations, the permission may come with conditions attached, if some future government or bureaucracy so decided.
I am proud to be raising free thinking, independent home educated children who are not only allowed their own opinions, but encouraged to express them. Thank you for writing this article, it so clearly expresses the views of so many homeschoolers.
Rhonda Albom, NZ
Yes John I realise how precariously positioned we are. The wording of the act really allows the government to prescribe anything they want at any time in the future.
But at least for now I can use a Christ-centred curriculum and no-one bothers us about it. There are also a growing number of secular not to mention Muslim homeschoolers who are just as protective of their freedom to homeschool without government interference as the Christians are.
I hope this adds to the discussion:
“Liberal tyranny is a soft tyranny. It depends on a pervasive system of social control that leaves little room for other ways of life but most often is not quite compulsory. There are many practical ways to fight it. It is bureaucratic, so we strike a blow by carrying on life less bureaucratically. It depends on comprehensive systems of education, training, and propaganda, so we carry on the struggle by giving other ways of thought and learning a place to exist; by homeschooling children, turning away from mass media, and developing independent institutions of knowledge.
“Every man who starts his own business, every family that adds to its independence by reducing its expenses, every woman who stays home to run the household and educate the children, every local congregation that takes on more demanding standards of conduct, every independently minded scholar who writes a book, gives a speech, contributes to a little magazine, or sets up a website, establishes a zone of ordered freedom within the anarchic tyranny that is advanced liberalism. Collectively, such people can establish a living alternative to the ways and understandings now dominant.
“The inhumanity of life within large organizations, and the degradation of journalism, formal education, popular entertainment, and official expert opinion, will make such alternatives increasingly attractive. Eventually, we may reach a tipping point, and social life begin to take on a different form.”
Kalb ‘The Tyranny of Liberalism’ (pp. 267-268)
Hi Bill. Sweden has always been the test case for socialist ideology, held up as some kind of utopia of ‘free’ ideals. It was regarded as ‘soft’ socialism but it’s becoming clear, as you say, that it’s becoming clear that there are more similarities to Cuba and North Korea than our trendy, homegrown socialists in Australia would care to admit. It’s clear that socialism, communism, leftism, progressivism or whatever they want to call it this week comes from the same ‘rotting corpse’ of Marxism (to borrow a phrase from the writer above). And Marxism has been arguably the most vicious and controlling of all ideologies we saw in the 20th century. Apart from the murder of over 200 million people since its inception, the controls on society and the misery it has inflicted are the signs.
Of course they do not want loving parents to have the freedom to train their own children as the Bible instructs. They believe that your child belongs to the state.
Hi Bill. As a family we home-schooled for quite a few years even though our children went to a Christian school. There were a number of reasons why we home-schooled but I will not go into that here at this time. They have all grown up and doing very nicely thank you. All have degrees and good qualifications. The boys shine as leaders and wherever they work are always put in charge of sites etc. I believe, but you can check it out that our Australian Constitution states, that children should be educated from the age of 6 years old through to 14 and 10 months. It does not stipulate that they have to go to a particular type of school or they cannot be home-schooled. In fact most of the United States past Presidents were home-schooled. Also the Wright Brothers were home-schooled which gave them the time to experiment with flying. There has been court cases that have decided, in the end that ultimately it is the parents responsibility to choose who and where their children are educated as long as they are properly educated. Still these Draconian socialist states will try their utmost to interfere with parents God given right to decide what is best for their children. The governments like to pick people off one at a time too, to scare other parents into giving in to them. As far as socialisation goes we went to church and did lots of extra-curriculum subjects such as swimming club, music, speech and drama, basketball etc. so no shortage of friends for the children. Anyway Bill that is just some of our story about home-schooling.
It certainly is not for everyone but it should be up to parents and God whether to go that way or not, not the state.
Although I experienced some negative aspects of public schooling, (overcrowing at times, gaps in the understanding of children by some teachers, delays in getting the resources out for new curricula, bullying <– that's a big one) I have some concerns about the uncritical boosting of home schooling I see here.
While home schooling parents are often lauded as having MBAs or degrees or as teaching quals even, I worry about the kids whose parents are not able or willing to give a balanced start to the child's life.
Sure, those here who mention music classes, sporting groups, etc, are possibly doing a great job with their kids. I'm sure that a lot of stats an be evidenced showing exemplarary results at Uni, say, for kids who've been home schooled. I wonder, though, who is going to look after the best interests of the kids whose parents don't have the time/money/skills to devote the attention, purchase the resources, set aside the time, muster the emotional ability and all the rest of it needed to home school?
If there are no standards, or if moneyed folk resist their aplication and enforcement, how do we reconcile our consciences when we know that the very reason public schools do get short shrift from politicians and education departments is the the resourceful, savvy, energetic, well-connected parents are cheerfully willing to let the standrads skip for all other kids so long as they are 'saving' their own?
If there are kids whose parents don't understand the concept of a quality education in the class with yorus, your energy and your determination can, well-directed, lift the tide for ALL the boats floating in that class, as the saying goes. If you don't think the school is doing a good job, jon the P & C. Lobby your MPs. Letter-bomb the government, and organise the neighbours to do the same.
That's how poor kids got the chance to go to public schools in the first place, and unless you think your kids are going to live in little bubbles for the rest of your lives, maybe you owe it to them, and you certainly do, IMO, owe it to the rest of the community where you live, to pull your weight as a citizen.
Do you lay separate roads from those the rest of us drive on if you think they are ill-maintained? No, you complain, campaign, etc. Why not do so for something as Christ-like, surely, as spreading his influence over the rest of your community by being a part of it?
There is nothing to say that parents can't and don't successfully bring up kids to lead morally sound lives by educating them at home in how we live, and equipping the kids with the skills to critically judge what they are taught at school, via the TV and movies, songs, books etc so that they can make sound judgements. I know, I did it with 3.
A lot of this discussion is based on the USA and Europe. WIth all the respect in the world, I think we can make decisions in Australia in our own way on education. We are not such a big market as USA for homeschooling, and a lot of the boilerplate curricula I have seen, USA based, is irrelevant here. I've seen some Aussie materials, and to be honest don't think much of them, because they tend to be based on some very narrow and simplistic views.
Sorry, but I am not with you in your diatribe against homeschooling. This debate is really all about choice. Parents should have the freedom to educate their children as they best see fit. And parents are voting with their feet – big time. They are sick and tired of lousy academic standards in our schools, and the moral cesspool that so many schools have become today. If parents want something better than that, I respect their freedom to chose what they think is best for their own children. And governments certainly should not be forcing parents into just one approved education path for their kids. Police states do that, but real democracies should not.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
There are many reason people homeschool, some are religious. Others because their children are being bullied, or are gifted or learning disabled and aren’t being catered for at school.
Homeschooling studies have shown no different in academic outcome between parents with PhDs, teachers, and parents who were not schooled past year 10.
There are opportunities both in the general and in homeschooling communities for many extra curricular type activities.
I would argue that any parent can homeschool. It takes time and energy to research and learn about education, to understand that homeschooling is not necessarily school replicated at home. If something matters to you, you find the time. I know homeschooling families with disabled kids and ones with parents with chronic illnesses. As I said before you don’t need a degree, just a willingness to learn along side your kids. With a library card and a internet connection you can practically homeschool for free though not all of us do. We don’t have to pay school fees or buy uniforms or school shoes etc. Yes we are a single income family but I know homeschoolers where both parents work different hours. In my experience those who want to do it find a way.
“If there are no standards, or if moneyed folk resist their application and enforcement, how do we reconcile our consciences when we know that the very reason public schools do get short shrift from politicians and education departments is the the resourceful, savvy, energetic, well-connected parents are cheerfully willing to let the standrads skip for all other kids so long as they are ‘saving’ their own?”
That argument would hold for private schools more-so than homeschooling in my opinion. We are not just talking about education here. We are talking about the secular environment. My kids can have the best academic education in the world but if they bring home four letter words from school in prep, watch porn on a friends iphone, are offered illicit drugs, of even licit ones at an early age, be fed a steady diet of evolution, homosexuality is good, premarital sex is good, everything they learn in history, science, English is coloured by a secular-humanistic world view instead of looking at it through the Bible. I would rather their education be not as good and their faith be affirmed every day.
When I was a teenager I was told not to go out with a non-Christian. Not even with the hopes of converting him. Why? Because it’s easier for someone to pull you down than for you to lift them up. I believe it is better to give my children a strong foundation in the faith while they are young to equip them for the fight in their adulthood.
School is a bubble where kids are kept 6 hours a day five days a week. My kids are out in the community. They shop with me, go to the doctor with me, pay the rates with me, visit politicians with me. In fact they live there lives with me and are as much a part of the ‘real world’ as I am.
Homeschooling doesn’t guarantee a Christian outcome just a public/private schooling doesn’t but God has told us to teach our children, and we choose to do that all the time.
There is some very good curricula out there even if it has to be adjusted for being American (sorry Bill). Most homeschoolers pick and mix from what is available or even write their own, after that is where most of the available stuff comes from.
I hope I have given you something to think about Tom, and perhaps corrected some misconceptions.
I’m glad to see the real Sweden is breaking through the veil nurtured through Swedish diplomatic efforts aimed only at promoting the image of the country. A subjective report on the state of the Swedish school system: Young people graduating from high schools here today may have adequate superficial knowledge, the things they’ve been taught in class, but they’re less adept than ever before at critical thinking, and mental health problems are worse than ever. One would definitely have many sound reasons to home-school here apart from religious concern, were it not for the simple fact that the state doesn’t let you.
I was in touch with Christer (father of the mentioned Dominic) about a month ago and we then discussed plans for getting his son back. I can’t remember for certain, but I think I told him that the best option would probably be to physically take Dominic back and then leave the country ASAP. Last week he did do something similar, though didn’t actually make a run for it. During the one hour every five weeks the family gets to spend together under the social services’ plan, he took his son home and let him see his extended family for the first time in years. Then some two days later, he called the police and informed them of his whereabouts, and they then came to take him away again, as well as charging Christer with a crime – “unlawful deprivation of liberty.” Read about it at http://friendsofdomenic.blogspot.com/ , the official blog of the Domenic case.
Feel free to also have a look at my blog for information relating to liberty in Sweden, provided in English by a native Swede.
Daniel Hammarberg, Sweden
I agree with Bill & Kylie that we’re not out to change the public school system, as they’re set on their agenda & don’t intend to alter that for us. We just want our parental rights to bring up our own children as God intended. If you look into the reasons why the public school system was started in the first place, here’s a good article for starters: http://www.diablovalleyschool.org/nightmare.shtml
You can read more about ‘the 6 lessons of public schooling’ here: http://www.cantrip.org/gatto.html
Just some food for thought.
I must agree a little bit with Tom on this one. The debate about home schooling is not primarily about the children who later go on to universities. It´s about the ones who barely get to know how to read. The children who has parents that abuses them or never tell them anything else than what they believve.
There is a line between raising your children and teaching them your values, and on the other hand brain washing them. Even if the case you mentioned is not a case of such brain washing, you can´t deny that it appens. And I believe that if Christianity is about a free choice, children must also be allowed to hear about other things, to be able to make that choice. That´s why children must be allowed access to their parents, who are the ones that knows best about their children, but they must also interact in society, with people from a different background then themselves.
But why are you assuming that homeschoolers don’t “interact in society, with people from a different background then themselves”? Do you think they are locked in a cage at home for the first 18 years of their life?
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
I don´t think that it happens to all homeschoolers (or even to 15%), but the risk of that happening increases when no meeting other kids in school. There is a risk that parents in order to “protect thei children” let´s them live in a bubble. And only meet the kids of their friends, with the same values as the parents. This is not only aimed at homeschooling, but to all forms of education which segregates kids, such as fncy private schools for rich children, and so on. They run the same risk of not getting a multifaceted view on the world.
But I don’t know of any homeschooled kids who fit your description, or illustrate the “risk” you seem worried about. Do you actually know any homeschoolers?
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Tom Gretzche, you gave us a lengthy comment, so this reply could be lengthy too.
1. Boosting of homeschooling here is not uncritical, but positive in an atmosphere of community (esp Christian) antagonism or ignorance.
2. There is no doubt that the mass education system with compulsory attendance is organised on factory models drawn from the Industrial Revolution and on 19th century Prussian models, with more and more humanist and anti-Christian factors added in over time
3. Education is about transmitting values, ethics and worldviews. Christian education is about informing our children of God’s Character and Creation, and eliciting a worshipful response.
4. Academic results are not the key to Biblical education, although we are fostering attitudes of excellence and perseverance, which tend to result in “better outcomes” in many areas
5. The community already expends a huge effort in running the education system – approx $A10,000 per primary student and $A14,000 per secondary student (2006 figures Victoria), but the results are pretty poor: about one-third of students are functionally illiterate and innumerate when they enter tertiary levels or the workforce.
6. The number 1 factor in “student academic performance” (whatever that means) is parental interest and involvement (Rowe Vic Dept of Education 1980s paper).
7. Home education does not necessarily require more effort than school-based education, but it is significantly more efficient and effective for those parents who choose to do it themselves.
8. Parents either spend time or money on fulfilling a God-given responsibility. They can either do it themselves or delegate it, but if they delegate, they can only delegate authority for a task, they can never delegate away the responsibility for the outcome. They MUST expend sufficient effort to hold teachers and schools accountable.
9. I don’t follow you in the pars that begin “If there are no standards, or if moneyed folk…” and “If there are kids whose parents don’t understand…” but if you mean ‘why aren’t these talented parents in the school system making it better for everyone?’, the answer is that it’s not the Biblical model:
– it does not take into account the true nature of people (including the problem of sin),
– it presently operates on a secular humanist philosophy and worldview,
– it is therefore bound to be less effective and thus should be abandoned.
The Biblical education model can be found in places lke Deut 6:7, 11:19, and Proverbs
10. Your analogy on road construction fails – we choose to drive different cars over the same roads. We choose to travel over different roads to different destinations. But our choices in education are more profound since they have to do with worldview and beliefs.
11. You managed to overcome the anti-Biblical influences on your 3 children? Excellent!
12. Experiences based on overseas practice are not necessarily invalid. We share many cultural factors which impinge upon education. In fact the school system adopts many US and European practices.
13. Sadly you are right that there is some pretty poor curriculum around. A lot of it is in our schools which no longer teach our children how to read as the English language is constructed, for instance.
The most common form of dyslexia is school-induced through inadequate teaching. The look-say and whole language systems came from the USA, and the entire principle of education as experience, rather than the impartation of knowledge, skills and attitudes is entirely from John Dewey of Columbia University.
14. Finally, it is considerably easier to remove Americanisms from US curriculum, than it is to remove anti-Christian worldviews (such as evolutionary mind-sets, and secular humanist philosophy) from local or overseas curriculum.
Socialization, like learning and life, takes place every single day for homeschooled kids. Not so for those in school. For instance, public school children are confined to a classroom for 200 days each year with little opportunity to be exposed to the workplace or fulfil many responsibilities. The children are trapped with a group of children their own age, with little chance to relate to children of other ages or adults. They learn in a moral vacuum where there are no absolute standards. They are given little to no responsibility, and everything is provided for them.
Homeschooling is more concerned with real life skills, & real understanding, rather than just learning to put the right answers on a test.
To those who are concerned about socialisation, I would ask you this question- Are all your work colleagues aged within 12 months of your age, & same socio-economic background & academic level? Nowhere else in society do individuals of the same age get together and spend the majority of their day in the same room. There are no 52-year-old businesses, or 36-year-old community groups.
Thanks Bill and responders. Are we reaching a stage where the State is our enemy?
Viktor, it sounds as if you have heard and absorbed the myth of home educators hiding their children away from ‘real life’.
However, if you check http://www.nheri.org you may be surprised to discover that it is schooled children who are cut off from ‘real life’.
The vast majority of home educated children are far more “immersed” in their communities, involved in local activities, and interacting with people of all ages.Schooled children interact with one adult in a class, under strictly regimented conditions, and with peers of their own chronological age in teh playground – with sometimes disastrous results.
Yes there is the occasional RARE case of a homeschool family isolating their children.
However, being in school apparently does not guarantee that abused children will be noted and their families reported, and we must ask ourselves how well do schools do in teaching children to read? As I replied to Tom G, about a third of students go out of the compulsory school system functionally illiterate.
As a supplier to Australian homeschoolers for 20 years, I can assure you that among our thousands of customers, I know that the “non-readers” are a much smaller proportion – I would estimate below 5%, and mostly with some identifiable medical problem.
I recognise that home educators are a self-selected and highly motivated group, so statistical samples are biased towards success, but the difference is undeniable.
It is precisely because the compulsory mass education model is compulsory and for everyone that it cannot achieve the same results. If a special program works in one place, the bureaucratic tendency is to roll it out to all schools for every student. But this fails to take account of individual differences.
By contrast, parents know their children best, and can tailor their program to their specific needs. If something does work they keep using it; if it doesn’t they stop that and find something else.
Viktor, another comment on your general point about homogenous groupings.
There is a positive feedback aspect to this – particularly as Christians we are encouraged to gather together with like-minded believers and to avoid sinful behaviour and destructive people.
The theory sometimes called “the school of hard knocks” or “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it” ie. we can’t avoid bad stuff so we’d better expose our children to it and get them used to it, doesn’t hold water. Scripturally we are warned “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (Corinthians – sorry about the haste – rushing off to collect my wife from hospital).
I do have to agree with Tom on this one also, despite the discussion being about “freedom to choose”, we also expect the government to be creating the ‘ideal’ for everything else (no to SSM, etc), so we cannot then decide that we want entire freedom to choose how WE think a child should be educated. There is a great saying I heard, “It takes a whole community to raise a child” and I firmly believe that.
I am not a parent, or a teacher, but both of my parents and my older sister are full-time teachers. My parents in public schools, and my sister in a Christian school. I thank God that there are Christian teachers out there who are gifted and annointed for the task at hand, and have dedicated 4+ years of their life to educate themselves (and continue to do so after uni) in order to be EQUIPPED for the task at hand. I expect my GP to have gone to medical school, and I expect a good teacher to have done the necessary training. My parents definitely face some tough hurdles in the public school system, and yes there are times when they both feel like throwing in the towel, but they know that they are bringing in a positive attitude and a skill set that will be lost if they don’t continue to do what they believe God has called them to do. I know that nobody has directly said that there aren’t good schools still around, but this is very much leaning towards the “better outcomes” of home-schooling and neglecting the fact that a good parent should look at all the options of education before deciding what is best for their child (and I also firmly believe that is should be decided on a child by child basis, what works for one does not always work for the other). When I have children and they are at the age of going to school, I will do my utmost to look for a school with the values and the resources that will give my child the best start in life. Just as I do when I look for a church that will be good for my family. If I can’t find a good enough church does this mean I have home church with me, my husband, and the cat?
Secondly, my brother is part of a church where there is an increasing trend in parents automatically homeschooling their children. From the outside it actually looks like they kind of have to. I think there are still a minority that send their children to schools because both parents are working full time. You know what? It seems that it is more about convenience than anything. Their church programs are frequent and often run late at night (sundays and weeknights) and so by running their own routine it doesn’t really matter when the kids get to bed etc. Of course this is not a picture of the majority but it is definitely one of my concerns. I think it is fair for the education department to be a part of the assessment of home-schooling and also determining the curriculum (of learning, not of spirituality).
For the record, I went through the public education system from the age of 4-17, and am very glad that I did. With a strong faith belief at home, always outworked (and always tested), I was able to stand in the face of the opposing beliefs (from both students and teachers) and know that Jesus was Lord. So, I guess my parents did a good job? Proverbs 22:6
But the discussion here is about freedom of choice – on two fronts. Governments should not be in the business of forcing parents to educate their kids only according to how the state thinks is best. That is tyranny, not freedom. And all police states seek to have a monopoly on education, to ensure that children are not exposed to any competing views, ideas, beliefs and values.
And the second bit of choice is that of the Christian parent. Why should some – like Tom seems to be doing – judge Christian parents who feel led of the Lord to homeschool their kids? Of course, if Christian parents feel led of the Lord to put their kids in public schools to be salt and light, that is fine too. And some will feel led to put their kids in Christian schools. Why should we stand in judgment of the choices Christian parents make?
I am not saying anyone of these three main options is a panacea or is the best. But surely Christians should be allowed to decide what is best for their kids, without other Christians judging them and criticising them for their prayerful and considered choices.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Jess, from a Biblical perspective God has not ordained the entire village to raise a child – He has commissioned parents to do so.
Again, I disagree that we should expect the government to do everything.
The government’s role is NOT to be a nanny with cradle-to-grave mollycoddling protection from all of life’s bad bits.
That is in fact totalitarianism – the government that gives you everything you want will demand everything you have in order to do so.
The government’s role is confined Biblically to law and order and defence (civil and military). It does not include health, welfare or education which are assigned to parents and the church.
The Biblical mandate I quoted for Tom requires that parents teach their children continuously through their normal daily activities. This doesn’t preclude Christian teachers, particularly qualified and gifted, receiving delegated authority from parents to teach their children.
But as I wrote above, that delegation includes holding such teachers accountable, in the same way that we hold doctors accountable and have the freedom to seek a second opinion, or find another doctor if we are not getting satisfactory medical treatment.
“The government’s role is confined Biblically to law and order and defence (civil and military). It does not include health, welfare or education which are assigned to parents and the church. ”
Really? That would be a nice reality but I’m not sure it is the one I’m living in. Certainly I am greatful to live in Australia with bulk-billing healthcare and HECS / fee HELP for a university degree. From my understanding we are considered to be at the top in terms of family security/raising children (metro areas). There are always things to complain about and petition for change, but put it this way I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now. Don’t want to get off the topic though.
I suppose I am coming from a place of having a mostly positive experience in both primary and secondary school. I do often find that those who have negative connotations with their time at school, such as bullying, or perhaps not feeling well-educated at the end of it all, they may be the ones that feel the pull towards home-schooling their children to try to prevent this from happening to their children too. A valid precaution in what can be a nasty world.
Whatever one chooses (and I agree that the freedom should remain for any parent to decide to home-school or not), it would be greatly unfair for a parent to go through no assessment and no guidelines, while the teachers have to continually meet benchmarks and state requirements to show that they are getting the kids to the necessary academic levels. Parents should be as accountable as teachers, if they choose to put on the “teacher” hat.
Just a final word – I know quite a few parents who home-school for various reasons – living in remote areas, travelling around, living in another country where education is not available locally for their kids. The Board of Studies (in NSW) is entrusted with trying to make sure that kids whose parents decide for them that they know best are aware of the standards that schools are expected to adhere to. And by the way, taxpayers pay for that support .. there is no truth in saying “My homeschooling saves the taxpayer xx dollars” if you are claiming it costs the rest of us nothing.
I don’t know all that many who were homeschooled for religous reasons, though oftheones I do, I can count 4 whose parents gave up because it was too hard – leaving the kids in a very difficult position at the ages they were, hopelessly behind and wrongly informed. That’s why there needs to be oversight.
Those parents who don’t get their backs up about fairly flexible oversight might care to consider the plight of 3 kids I know of whose education for 2 years consisted of teaching them to memorise the Bible – by ear, chanting it as they went about the farm tasks imposed by 2 parents whose days were mostly spent on their knees. I’m not kidding, it was a relative of an in-law. I know there are not many home schoolers like that, but I assure you that story is true.
The analogy of the home-built road system does not compute, to me – yes, the vehicles arde always different – there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ curriculm that suits a gien child in every respect, so they ARE like different vehicles. But the infrastructure is there .. faulty at times, yes, but designed over time to ensure that all Aussie kids get a fair go – I don’t want to see it dismantled through disdain on the part of those who will take their kids to a publically suported hospital to see doctors and nurses whose education was condicted according to strict standards for very good reasons, but who exempt themselves from having an eye to standards.
Jess, you said:
and you are quite correct. All governments are a long way from the Biblical ideal, and we are paying for those “free” benefits in a big way, with a total tax burden somewhere in the vicinity of 40% of total community income.
I have deliberately not said anything about the negative social factors pushing parents away from the school system. I have tried to present the Biblical case – obedience to God in detail.
You also said:
Parents do assess their students regularly if they are using a decent curriculum. Parents are accountable for their results both in spiritual terms (the more important) and in academic terms (as their students graduate to careers).
Unfortunately, assessment of teacher work quality (usually via student assessments) is something the teacher unions oppose vehemently. However, the long-term results of their work are evident to employers who have to cope with an inadequately prepared workforce – in large numbers. The second area we see this failure is in a population which cannot think logically, and falls for cheap sloganeering – either in commercial advertising, or in political spin and sound-bites.
However, if one family fails in its task of preparing their student/s, the scale of the problem is tiny, and the consequences usually fall directly upon the family and the children themselves.
So I believe there is a greater unfairness in the parlous state of affairs where teachers are not penalized for inadequate performance.
Tom, why should the BoS measure home education by mass-education school-based standards? Isn’t that like comparing chalk and cheese?
And, whilst I did say home education is much cheaper (more efficient) for the community, I did not say there was no cost to the taxpayer. In fact, there IS truth in saying “I save the taxpayer xx dollars”; I believe you have overlooked the fact that I did not claim xx dollars to be the entire cost.
You also said:
In comparing the Biblical standard with a current Australian practice, the existence of the infrastructure makes no odds in terms of God knowing best how we should educate our children, and in terms of our adherence to God’s standard.
If the infrastructure is grossly inefficient, and fails in its purported objectives, then it should be questioned.
You claim it’s designed “to give Aussie kids [presumably you mean children, not the offspring of goats 🙂 ] a fair go” but is that a valid objective for an education system? How does one define a fair go? Is it a fair go if so many can’t read, write, compute or think after 13 years? To return to the analogy, would you consider it “a fair go” if a third of our roads were impassable?
Jess you said, ‘There is a great saying I heard, “It takes a whole community to raise a child” and I firmly believe that.’
The original saying was “It takes a whole village to raise a child”. It is believed to come from Africa. It refers to a system where children work alongside their parents and their peers. They learn to hunt from the hunters, the weave from the weavers, they learn what plant are used for from their elders, they sit along side their parents and learn to work and live. Both spiritual and educational experiences are wound together.
It was not saying to institutionalise children with one adult and 20 peers 5 days a week. I think homeschooled children, for the most part, spend far more time being raised by the village and far less time under the tutelage of one person.
“I think it is fair for the education department to be a part of the assessment of home-schooling and also determining the curriculum (of learning, not of spirituality).”
We are all spiritual beings and our spirituality or world view affects the way we see the world. Curriculum cannot be separated from world view. The VELS is heavy on environmentalism because that is popular at the moment, they countries learnt about are our Asian neighbours, not our ancestors, evolution is taught without question, tolerance is the great virtue, wars, missionaries etc are all looked upon through humanistic eyes.
It Victoria the curriculum guidance given is that we cover the Key Leaning Areas. We sign a form once a year (I wonder how many tax $$ that takes). This allows me to teach creationism, critical thinking, socratic discussion, logic, history through the lens of scripture, legend and mythology through the lens of scripture, looking after creation rather than worshipping it, absolutes, any country I please.
So yes I do want to be left alone. I don’t want to be arrested for teaching creation or absolutes. Every curriculum in every state and every country is different, why should I have to use the Victorian one to homeschool just because that is where I live. It has no greater virtue than NSW or Qld, or Texas. As homeschoolers we look for the best curriculum for our family just as the state tries to find the one they think is best for every child in the state.
I don’t want the state telling my children what to think and how to think. One of the reasons parents are loosing their right to parent is the bad ones. In the states attempt to protect a few abused children the rights of all the other parents are curtailed as well. What if someone decided all children needed to be in care from birth so that they couldn’t be abused? We don’t school from 5 to 16 because that amount of time is needed for an education.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is being brought to our Congress for consideration. The ratification of this document in the United States would overpower all our parental rights, which are at state level. An amendment to our Constitution is necessary to protect our rights as parents at a national level, standing to this UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, if the Congress passes it. Please go to parentalrights.org and read more about it and sign the petition.
Carmen Rivera, US
Great article Bill, thanks for bringing these things to the attention of the wider body of Christ, they are greatly concerning to every true Christian and parent and I commend you on your forthright stand to make known the truth of these things boldly.
It was sad to see that some professed Christians reveal their disagreement with both your recent articles on this subject, even if it be ever so subtle and masked by seemingly wise earthly arguments to the contrary.
Your article merely highlighted some of the significant concerns and the necessary freedom that ‘family’ and in particular ‘parents’ should have regarding their ‘choice’ to educate their children personally.
This article was clearly not meant to be dealing with some of the possible pro’s and con’s for or against such, of which independent secular statistics are clearly favouring home schooling anyway, even if this went largely unheard by some.
Yet for all the clear evidences, that which is in the heart of some could not be hidden opening up and revealing not mere balanced comments but the personal passion of indifference and contention to this great blessing of home schooling and choice, of which the Lord is trying to communicate to His people about, hence your article.
But for some if that wasn’t enough they took opportunity to spew forth the level of such turmoil within them to even slur good people and good Christian communities who make it a priority to ensure the people of their flocks are properly informed of such information to make free will decisions about such as your articles produce. I find this very sad yet not surprising, let the line be drawn in the sand I say.
Hi Bill and readers,
I made some comments in my original post that I must point out are incorrect and misinformed. For those who may know what I am referring to, I apologise for this. I regret to say that I made some false comments regarding a very good church and the people within it. I sincerely apologise to anybody who may have read this or may read it in the future. I no longer stand by that post, and I thank the Lord for correction.
Thanks Bill for your articles, I look forward to reading more on this topic and others.
Blessings Jess, that took a lot of courage and Christian integrity mate, and I can honestly state you will have great respect and honour amongst those of knowledge in the Lord as a result of your honesty, you did what many who are called leaders have not the maturity to do, simply take wrong and make it right you are an example to us all, thanks again mate and may the Lord bless your future greatly in His service.