We didn’t know how homeschooling would work at all or for our family. So we thought we would try it for a year or two.
It wasn’t long before we became absolutely committed. We tried a variety of curriculum—although at first there were only a few choices.
We homeschooled our ten children for 33 years. And for virtually all of that time I helped to lead the organization I founded, Home School Legal Defense Association.
It is rare that I choose to speak a word of admonishment to the homeschooling movement, but I feel compelled to do so now.
America, indeed the world, is at a unique moment in history. More than ever before, a significant portion of the population is considering alternatives to public schools. More people are considering homeschooling right now than at any other time in our lives.
And yet I hear critical, unwelcoming messages coming from some in the homeschooling movement. It’s a minority voice. But it is persistent enough that it must be addressed head-on. I have seen it in the last week in comments on my own FB page.
“These aren’t real homeschoolers. They’re crisis schoolers. And that’s not the same.”
“I just hope they have the right motivation to homeschool. But I doubt it.”
“They will just try to do school at home and that’s not the same as homeschooling.”
All such statements are ill-advised at best and are often marked by spiritual arrogance. Let me say this clearly. There is no one correct way to homeschool. There is not a singular correct motivation to homeschool.
The Bible says, “Who are you to judge another man’s servant?” In addition, God gave each child to his/her own parents—not to others. Not to you. Not to me.
If we believe that government shouldn’t tell people how they MUST educate their kids, that admonition applies to us as well.
We can give advice—especially if asked. We can tell our stories and share what has worked and what wasn’t as good.
But it is the very rare family that had everything worked out on the first day of homeschooling.
We grew in our knowledge and convictions. We need to give other people room and time to grow in their knowledge and convictions.
We should celebrate each new family and help them in ways that are meaningful to them.
There is a very real prospect that the homeschooling movement could double or maybe triple this fall. The long term impact on our nation and our movement could be simply amazing if we manage it well.
But if we are arrogant, standoffish, or holier than thou, this opportunity will slip through our hands.
It’s time to remember the first Bible verse that is taught to toddlers. “Be ye kind to one another.”
Yes, there will be increased possibilities of regulation because of the growth of home education. But Professor Bartholet and others have announced their goal to ban homeschooling even before the COVID crisis. The growth in numbers helps our prowess in the political arena. Get involved with HSLDA and your state group and fight for freedom. More troops are an asset, not a liability.
Michael P. Farris is president and CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom. As the second CEO of ADF, he brings to the role a diverse background as an effective litigator, educator, public advocate, and communicator, and is widely recognized for his successful work on both the national and international stage.
Farris was founding president of both the Home School Legal Defense Association (1983) and Patrick Henry College (2000) and continues to serve as chairman of the board of HSLDA and chancellor emeritus of PHC.
Reprinted with permission.