Home school blogs and other news sources are issuing warnings to keep an eye on our freedom to home school. Some home school sources are quite concerned that under America’s current leadership, home schooling as we know it could be in for a change. We hear declarations that America’s children belong to the “community” and no longer only to their parents. We see a German home school family seeking political asylum threatened with being sent back to a nation that does not permit home schooling, because our current administration does not see that issue as a denial of freedom deserving political asylum in America.
Clearly, the fundamental right of parents to direct and control the upbringing of their children has been entrenched in America since the days of the Pilgrims and has been officially recognized in American constitutional law for more than 100 years. Today, however, instead of looking to themselves, to their families, or to their churches, Americans are increasingly turning to government to care for them, “cradle to grave.” Many in the federal government act as if they alone—not families—know what is best for our children. If this trend continues in education, it could provide a significant challenge for home schooling families.
A well-worn political adage warns us always to “follow the money.” Concern over massive government funding and control of public schools and the potential corresponding impact on home schoolers is not unfounded. It is another well-worn adage that “whatever the government pays for, it retains the right to control.” If government continues to recognize that it is “under God,” there is no problem. When government begins to function as a god unto itself, it is time to worry.
Who Should Decide?
Someone must decide what sort of education is best for individual children. The government could decide. It often seems that it would certainly like to decide. The children themselves could decide. Children are deciding far too much for themselves today, as our family structure crumbles. Or parents could decide. That is God’s idea. However, American law is rapidly shifting away from parental authority to decide and is moving toward children having more power and input in their own education, with the federal government being the “Big Dog” in controlling all educational policy.
Rather than accepting the decisions of Mom and Dad, courts may well begin to say that a child of ten, eleven, or twelve has the legal right to choose for himself, even where his education is concerned. While that has not yet happened in America, clearly the law is trending in that direction as courts are allowing children at ever younger ages to make important decisions for themselves—including their involvement in sexual activity or in choosing a sexual preference. Is it not interesting that the government now wants children who are just beginning puberty to buy abortifacients freely at the drugstore but at the same time treats twenty-six-year-olds as children still able to remain on their parents’ health insurance plan?
Parents are increasingly seen as impediments to their child’s freedom, sexual or otherwise. The government is often far too eager to step in to “protect” children from their parents. Mandated, government-run public education is certainly one of the best ways to ensure that children will break free from the “outdated” religion, ethics, and morality of their parents and embrace the new values of a government that no longer sees itself as a Christian nation. Home schooling families, however, are still able to teach their children the real American history, ideals, and values of independence from a totalitarian government and a corresponding dependence on God. Future citizens may later thank you when these well-educated and morally upright adults are called upon to lead a nation that has otherwise lost its way.
What Are the Basics?
Political movements opposing potential challenges to home schooling may become more urgent in the near future, but for now parents need to focus on several basic issues. Home school families must make sure that home schooling itself will remain a strong movement that is difficult to stop. Follow these basic steps first:
- Know the law in your state.
- Follow the law.
- Do your work as home schoolers excellently.
- Keep good records.
These will be the keys to best protecting home schooling in the future, whatever the challenges. It is those parents who are doing an outstanding job and who are able to demonstrate that their children are being well educated who will best protect the continuing freedom for everyone to choose the best educational option for their child, including a home education.
David C. Gibbs III – has written 2 posts on this site.
Home school father of four children, Attorney Gibbs serves as general counsel for Homeschool Legal Advantage, a ministry service to home school families nationwide. A graduate of Duke Law School, Attorney Gibbs is a dynamic speaker and litigator. He has authored five books, including Fighting for Dear Life: The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo and What It Means for All of Us. As Attorney Gibbs travels the nation with his family, he encourages audiences that “the best way to defend your parental rights as a home schooler is to avoid legal problems before they occur.”