Be Prepared: Would Someone Like to Take Over the Education of Your Child?

Be Prepared: Would Someone Like to Take Over the Education of Your Child?1

(or, Cooperation Versus Co-Optation)

by Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. Copyright © 2004, 2002, 2000 by Brian D. Ray Copyright (C) 2000 by Brian D. Ray

Are you about to give up what you believe, or should believe? I am concerned that too many parents who home educate their children are not considering the whole counsel of God regarding the education of their children (and of all other children in America or any nation, for that matter). This lack of consideration makes it especially possible that a movement now underfoot in America will drastically undermine the God-ordained and parent-led home-based education that has made such great advances over the past two decades.

I want every home educator to read this article, regardless of whether he or she is an agnostic, atheist, Christian, Jew, Mormon, Muslim, or New Ager, whether he or she is an unschooler or highly structured textbook educator. As a Christian, however, I must establish an important basic concept before I continue with this article. Although this may be stating the obvious to many of the readers of this piece of writing, it is crucial for a Christian to consider what God has said about who is in charge of and responsible for a child’s education.2 I urge you to note that this question implies an indicative answer, that is, who is in charge, and not an imperative response, that is, who should be in charge. If you search His word, it should become clear that the answer is that the parents are in authority over a child’s education (and, in particular, it is the father’s responsibility). Parents are the shepherds of what goes into the hearts and minds of their children. Parents are fully responsible.3 In addition, parents are to be the main teachers of their children. Only within God-approved limits and according to confirmation to parents from the Holy Spirit, the child may be sent away and taught by persons other than parents at specific times for specific purposes.

Furthermore, it is essential to note that the scripture neither prescribes nor encourages parents to give a significant portion of a child’s education — or authority over his education — over to the government (e.g., the state). It is clearly not God’s preferred design to have any children, let alone the children of His chosen ones, be raised and indoctrinated by the civil government. Nor is it wise for any person, regardless of his religious beliefs, who values liberty and freedom of thought to turn over the education of children to the state. If it is true that parents are in authority over their children’s education, and the government is not, and if it is true that we must faithfully live out this precept, then we must be on guard against anything that would violate or undermine this precept.

I have watched, since the late 1990s, a rapidly increasing trend comprised of private individuals, corporations, organizations, and agents of the state (e.g., public schools) offering to “serve homeschoolers” with classes, computers, Internet access, “qualified” (i.e., government-approved, government-certified, and government-licensed) teachers, books, texts, and so forth, all paid for with tax monies. In other words, homeschoolers are being offered “free” programs and materials to help them teach their children.

These programs come in many forms. They may be charter schools, voucher systems, alternative school programs, distance learning, learning resource centers, or simple access to curriculum materials or programs. A common feature of these, however, is that they are paid for with taxes. It is important to note at this point that if something is paid for with taxes then it must be controlled by the government (e.g., the state or local school district). Regardless of the various descriptions persons may use to present these programs, they are all government (“public”) schooling.

I would like to provide you with several ideas for consideration regarding tax-funded educational programs (e.g., public school at home, “homeschool” programs, conventional public schools).

A Violation of Jurisdiction

First, tax-funded (government-run) education programs violate God’s design — the fact that the education of a child is under the jurisdiction of his parents, not of the government. (A person should study the word of God for an understanding of this; some scriptures have already been listed.)

Government Control Follows Tax Money

Government control of a child’s education (i.e., his thinking, his values, his beliefs, his knowledge) is a fact — a reality — to one degree or another when his education is funded with taxes. It is only right in a republic for accountability and control to follow tax dollars. For example, an Oregon Revised Statute mandates that “private alternative programs” (e.g., this may take the form of a “homeschool” program) comply with Federal law, Oregon law on discrimination, and many other laws and therefore shall not discriminate based on “... age, disability, national origin, race, marital status, religion or sex” and the students must participate in the state assessment (testing) system.4 Remember that there is no such thing as a neutral or “value-neutral” education. All education and educational materials are value-laden. Even many of the antibiblically-minded and leftist professors of education at today’s universities recognize and admit this truism.5

Loss of Liberty and Freedom —

“There is No Free Lunch”

First, these programs, services, and schools are not “free” as some of their proponents are prone to claim. They are paid for with tax money (i.e., property) that is taken from hard-working citizens. Second, French professor and civic official Jacques Allul explained about 40 years ago that “… the most obvious result of primary education [i.e., state-run schools] in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was to make the individual susceptible to superpropaganda.”6 Third, many people know that a key to controlling homeschoolers and the education of their children is to lure them with tax-funded materials and services. A Stanford University professor recently wrote: “… finding ways to draw homeschooling families back to the public school system seems to me a necessary complement to the passage of effective regulations [of homeschoolers].”7

Favored Treatment For Some

These programs hurt many people. First, when a parent enrolls his child in one of these programs then he is taking money, via the power of the state, from another citizen (e.g., with or without children, married or unmarried, wealthy or poor) for the education of his own child.

Second, when a parent puts his child into one of these programs, he is denying the fact that biblically-informed free enterprise and entrepreneurialism is better than government control of monies, goods, and services. If this parent were a shoemaker, how would he like to compete with a shoemaker across the street who had 30%, 50%, or 90% of his business subsidized by everyone’s taxes (including his own) by the power of the state? This is what happens to the private tutors, private secular and Christian schools, private satellite schools, curriculum suppliers, authors, and private learning centers when state-controlled and tax-funded public school-at-home programs set up shop.

Finally, these welfare programs defy the wisdom of the U.S. Constitution that never gave authority to lawmakers to give away the public money as charity. And, as Davy Crockett was once admonished, while he or other legislators are sending tax money to relieve one, they are drawing it from others who are even worse off than the one.8

Increased Enrollment Increases Taxes

It is not all right to enroll children in these programs because “I am already paying the taxes and future taxation will not be changed.” The fact, contrary to this rationale, is that if the enrollment in state-run programs goes up 10% (or 20%, etc.) over the next couple of years, then the state legislature needs to find a way to fund them so they may very well consider increasing property taxes (yours, mine, and those of everyone else) or some other tax or creating a new tax. And second, the property taxes that one family pays usually comes nowhere near the amount needed to pay for that families’ children’s tax-funded schooling. By the way, how much of your child’s education in a state-run public school-at-home program would be funded by gambling (a.k.a., Oregon’s lottery, for example)?

Just “Serving Our Children?”

Some persons claim that state-run public school-at-home programs are just about serving children, that is, serving the educational needs of “our” children. First, they are not “our” children. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Smith are God’s children under the charge of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. If you want to help your neighbor educate his children, then open your wallet, take out some money, and give it to him. Most people call this biblical approach to helping others “loving one’s neighbor using free will” (or volition). (Idea: Ask those who call themselves “pro-choice” regarding abortion whether they believe in choice when it comes to the funding of the education of others’ children.) Second, it has already come to pass that state school districts are making huge profits off these programs. I spoke on homeschooling to a Lion’s Club in one of Oregon’s larger cities, and afterwards a man who was a former school board member in California told me that his state-run school district started a homeschool program with the main intent of making easy money. It is happening all over America.9

I urge you to know the facts, understand biblical jurisdictions regarding the education of children, and be prepared for an increasing number of programs, advertisements, and voices to clamor for the opportunity to “serve your children.” Consider what the LORD says about the education of your children. Remember, “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”10 Please think and pray carefully before ever turning over any part of the education of your child to the state or strangers or unbelievers. May you be filled with God’s wisdom.

About the Author

Brian D. Ray, Ph.D., is president of the National Home Education Research Institute. He is considered to be one of the world’s leading experts on homeschool research. Dr. Ray has published numerous articles and books on homeschooling, appeared via many news media, and testified in a variety of courts and legislatures on the topic of parent-led education. Dr. Ray earned his Ph.D. in science education from Oregon State University. He and his wife Betsy home educate their eight children on a small farm in Salem, Oregon. You may contact: National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), PO Box 13939, Salem, Oregon 97309-1939, phone (503) 364-1490, fax (503) 364-2827, mail@nheri.org, www.nheri.org NHERI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation; contributions help its work. Many excellent resources -- statistics, research, reports, how to get started homeschooling, books -- related to homeschooling are available from NHERI. In the new video Home-Based Education: The Informed Choice, Dr. Ray presents research on homeschooling and challenges viewers to consider how homeschooling increases liberty in individuals, families, and nations ($20); the full-color, 24-page report Home Schooling on the Threshold: A Survey of Research at the Dawn of the New Millennium is great for parents and critical grandparents ($3.95); there is nothing like Dr. Ray’s new book Worldwide Guide to Homeschooling: Facts and Stats on the Benefits of Home School 2002-2003 ($9.99); and the newest study, Home Educated and Now Adults ($10 book) answers many questions about how they will do in the “real world”; add 20% shipping/handling. [coopt04.art, 11/7/00, rev. 7/26/01, 1/10/02, 11/15/02, 4/29/04] Copyright © 2004, 2002, 2000 by Brian D. Ray

1 For a scholarly article on topics related to this, consider reading “Home Schooling for Individuals’ Gain and Society’s Common Good” by Brian D. Ray, Ph.D., in Peabody Journal of Education, 75 (1 & 2), pp. 272-293, available for $5 + $1 s/h from NHERI.

2 Deut. 6:6-9; Ps. 78:1-11; Prov. 22:6; II Corinthians 10:5, Is. 54:13, Lk. 6:40; Prov. 13:20; I Cor. 15:33; Eph. 6:4.

3 Mt. 18:6.

4 Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 336.631.

5 Nord, Warren A. (1995). Religion and American education: Rethinking a national dilemma. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.

6 Ellul, Jacques. (1965). Propaganda: The formation of men's attitudes. New York, NY: Vintage Books (A division of Random House), p. 109.

7 Reich, Rob. (2001). Testing the boundaries of parental authority over education: The case of homeschooling. Paper prepared for delivery at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, August 30-September 2, 2001. [p. 39-40].

8 Ellis, Edward S. (1884). The Life of Colonel David Crockett, excerpt retrieved 9/17/01 online http://lexrex.com/ Copyright © 2004, 2002, 2000 by Brian D. Ray enlightened/articles/crockett_on_charity.htm.

9 For example, the IDEA state-run program in Galena, Alaska.

10 Mt. 18:6 (NIV)

Reprinted with permission.