Regulating Homeschooling
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Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 12:19:31 AM EST
The homeschooling movement is one of the most disturbing developments associated with the rise of the Christian Right. Even though there is an increasing amount of criticism directed at the Christian Right, there have not been many energetic critics taking on the homeschooling movement. This is why it is good to see a recent paper written by Kimberly Yuracko of the Northwestern University School of Law.

Homeschooling is no longer a "fringe" phenomenon. Homeschooling
was common in the United States before the Nineteenth Century, but by the early 1980s the practice was illegal in most states. Since then, homeschooling has enjoyed a dramatic rebirth. Today, homeschooling is legal in all states. Estimates of the numbers of children currently being homeschooled range from 1.1 to 2 million. The 1.1 million estimate represents 2.2 percent of the school-age population in the country. [     ]

The modern homeschool movement was originally dominated by liberals and educational progressives. These early pioneers came to homeschooling from a range of leftist causes and organizations: the women's movement, the alternative schools movement, and the La Leche League. Many believed that traditional schools were rigid and intellectually stifling. They were followers of progressive school reformer John Holt, one of the early advocates of "unschooling." [    ]

By the early 1990's, homeschooling had expanded and divided into two distinct movements: one secular and the other conservative Christian. [    ]

These two factions were not, however, of equal size and strength. The Christian homeschooling movement came to dominate its secular counterpart in size, profile and political strength. [   ]

At the heart of the Christian homeschooling movement is the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. HSLDA's commitment to ensuring parents' unfettered right to homeschool flows from two core ideological beliefs. The first is a belief in parental control, indeed ownership, of children. "Parental rights are under siege," HSLDA warns. "The basic fundamental freedom of parents to raise their children hangs in the balance. Have we forgotten whose children they are anyway? They are a God-given responsibility to parents," HSLDA proclaims. Indeed, Michael Farris, an HSLDA founder and its former president, argues that "[t]he right of parents to control the education of their children is so fundamental that it deserves the extraordinary level of protection as an absolute right." The second is a belief in the need for Christian families to separate and shield their children from harmful secular social values. [   ]

Motivated by these beliefs, HSLDA, along with the National Center for Home Educatio (NCHE)--HSLDA's service arm designed to link, inform and organize state homeschool leaders--and the Congressional Action Program (CAP)--HSLDA's lobbying organization--has become a powerful political force. For the last two decades HSLDA has opposed virtually all state oversight and regulation of homeschooling.[      ]

Surprisingly, the social and legal implications of this phenomenon have received almost no scholarly attention. For decades political theorists have worried and argued about what steps a liberal society must take to protect children being raised in illiberal communities. They have focused their attention
on the extent to which a liberal society must permit or condemn such practices as polygamy, clitoridectomy, and child marriage.
Virtually absent from the debate has been any discussion of the extent to which a liberal society should condone or constrain homeschooling, particularly as practiced by religious fundamentalist families explicitly seeking to shield their children from liberal values of sex equality, gender role fluidity and critical rationality. The notable exception among political scientists is Rob Reich. [   ]

Legal academics have been even more silent in the face of homeschooling's dramatic rise. Most articles about homeschooling have focused on the narrow question of whether public schools must permit homeschooled
students to participate in extracurricular activities. Very few have provided any critical evaluation or assessment of current homeschooling laws more generally. None have addressed the significant constitutional questions raised by state abdication of control over homeschooling. This paper seeks to begin to fill this important void. The paper explores the constitutional limits the state action doctrine puts on states' ability to delegate unfettered control over education to homeschooling parents. It argues that states must--not may or should--regulate homeschooling to ensure that parents provide their children with a basic minimum education and check rampant forms of sexism.

(Thanks to Melissa Rogers for the link)

articles on homeschooling can be found at meschooling%202005.pdf

by Carlos on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 12:23:47 AM EST
And opinions of homeschoolers about Mr. Reich's viewpoint (from homeschoolers often of the other-than-HSLDA type) can be found at A to Z Home's Cool:

at Home Education Magazine:

Let's Stop Aiding and Abetting Academicians' Folly


Why do moderate homeschool voices seem to be missing from the national conversation?


Through the Lens of Homeschooling:
A Response to Michael Apple and Rob Reich

by ValerieM on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 12:12:46 AM EST

Thanks for bringing this to the forefront Carlos, I think many people are unaware of the nature of the homeschooling movement.

A few years before my daughter entered school I began to consider homeschooling as an option that fit our work related travel.

I noticed an ad in the paper that the state homeschool association was about to host their annual convention so I requested the program guide.

I was horrified to learn that out of 33 seminars, only two were on academics (math) while the rest were titled such things as "How to put the fear of God in your children" and "How to combat the teaching of evolution in society."

Since then I have reviewed several catalogs for homeschooling families and noted that many of the offerings under "Christian based education have been written by some of the leading lights in Dominionism.

Cornell University's has some disturbing information and samples of literature from popular homeschool text books.

It should also be noted that recruitment for Patrick Henry College ("for Christ and Liberty", "to train Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical values") draws heavily from the homeschooled population, promising to prepare them for a future "in congressional offices, intelligence and law enforcement agencies, think tanks, newspapers, publishing houses, private and home schools - even the White House."

If only the progressive movement were so organized...

by Vesica on Wed Jun 06, 2007 at 08:47:55 PM EST

Thanks for bringing this to the forefront Carlos, I think many people are unaware of the nature of the homeschooling movement.

You're getting only part of the picture, and you forget the part that if you chose to homeschool, you could do it your way -- however that would be.  Homeschoolers aren't a separate segment of society, they potentially encompass anyone.

However, the comment about 'if only progressives were as organized' is right on the money.  Homeschoolers who aren't part of a larger group-that-homeschools are no easier to organize than garden-variety progressives. In homeschooling circles we refer to it (unoriginally) as 'herding cats.'  We've been around for a long time as Home Education Magazine began publication in 1984, and John Holt's Growing Without Schooling was already well established by the time I began homeschooling in 1990.

From a scientific viewpoint, some of us are starting to make our presence known through websites such as The Evolved Homeschooler wiki.

While the homeschoolers who home educate for conservative religious reasons have a ready-made structure around which to organize, those of us who homeschool (or, homeschooled, in my case) have no such common bond.  Our outlooks vary, our styles of homeschooling vary, our materials vary, and we have no Great Commission behind us to convert anyone.  We don't frequent the conferences as often as do our religious colleagues (although the Rethinking Education conference is popular) because, many times, we buy 'real' books from Borders, and Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.  (which isn't to say that our religiously-motivated colleagues don't also do the same thing)  It's hard to build consensus around, "I disagree with their point, and your point, too."

And as for Professor Yuracko's paper being "good" to see, consider the thought experiment of the academic shoe being on the other educational foot:

ABC News reported at one time that 60% of Americans believe in the Genesis version of creation.  

Now if the State is the entity that decides what all citizens are to be taught (and for whom parents are only proxies), and if that Genesis-believing majority somehow manages to become more influential -- with parents-as-proxies laws in place -- then it could happen that their version is what is taught in public schools.  If the model is to be that the State's version rules, then any State's version rules, including ones that go against liberal mores.  

In the thought experiment, where would the liberals who can't afford private schools send their children to be educated?  No homeschooling-as-you-wish to avoid creationist biology for progressives.

If homeschooling parents -- even the ones we disagree with -- don't have academic liberty with their children, then no one has academic liberty.

by ValerieM on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 06:57:19 PM EST

we didn't "forget" that we could homeschool on our own, but living in a fairly isolated setting, a prerequisite to homeschool was that we still needed to join a loose social community that offered different influences and the broadened knowledge bases that are a part of that. Obviously there was no community for us in the Christian homeschool community.

As for public school, after 9 years I can say emphatically that the system itself as well as individual teachers teach many ideas and concepts that I disagree with, the idea of pilgrims establishing "religious freedom" for example, and other candy coated history lessons that help reinforce an established American myth, but in those cases we take the responsibility of (re)educating our children on our perspective. Parent-as-proxy seems to me a myth for a parent who doesn't want to take responsibility for corrective education as they feel is needed.

When national education models are considered (TIMSS), it's always Singapore that tests highest. There are numerous variables involved, including a system of equitable allocation of resources that would never fly in the gated communities here in the US, but a major factor in Singapore's success is the fact that there is a national required curriculum throughout the early and middle school years that every child is expected to know. The world only gets more competitive, I'd be all for a similar national curriculum that even homeschoolers had to apply.

by Vesica on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 08:35:30 PM EST

I understand how it is to homeschool with little support.  When I started homeschooling in 1990, we lived in Munich, Germany (as military).  There was no homeschooling support, there were few curriculum providers, Germany was not yet well-wired to the Internet, and the concept of something like wasn't even a twinkle in my eye.  When I did later find other homeschoolers (in another military community in Germany, and later in Belgium) many of the homeschoolers (but not all) claimed the Christian label for themselves.  Apparently, Episcopalian wasn't on their list of appropriate methods for expressing oneself in Christian fashion, so I relied on Home Education Magazine for support.  

I homeschooled my kids to high school graduation, in countries other than my own, with very little 'real life' support.

I also understand about public schools as our oldest son was publicly schooled.  The rumor of homeschooling didn't even come to my ears until he was a senior in high school.

When I mention "parent as proxy" it isn't about the actions of parents, but rather it's the viewpoint I'm seeing in Ms. Yuracko's paper.  The impression I get from her paper is that the proper role of parents is as breeders and caretakers, ie proxies for the state, in making more citizens, because the state can't do this on its own.

The idea of a national curriculum, to me, flies in the face of academic freedom.  The students of countries with strict curricular goals may do well on standardized tests designed for them, but other measures may be used to rank the effectiveness of national learning communities.  One measure might be the winners of Nobel prizes, such as the prize for chemistry.  

I totted up the Nobel Prize winners for chemistry at: ml
and the USA was tops with 55.  Germany was next with 29, followed by the U.K. with 26.  All other countries were single digits.

Singapore, on the other hand, has not won any of the prizes.  This distresses some people:
Why Has Singapore Not Won A Nobel Prize?

Using the yardstick of Nobel Prizes, it appears that the U.S.A.'s varied system produces more positive 'real world' results than the homogenized systems of other countries.

by ValerieM on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 12:00:30 AM EST

The TIMSS study looks only at lower education and goes to great pains to negate cultural differences in making educational comparisons in the testing process. That Singapore consistently blows the G8 nations out of the water in the math and sciences is widely accepted. If Nobel prizes were awarded to 8th graders there would be a reversal of statistics.

Singapore opted out of the Third International Math & Science Survey (TIMSS) - of 21 Nations, but the US ranked a dismal #19, just ahead of Cypress and South Africa.

It's true that American universities lead the pack on higher education, but many universities seek foreign students to fill their sciences and engineering departments. 2/3 of those foreign students remain in the US because of the availability of research funding. If you check the Nobel prize recipients you will see many foreign nationals winning prizes for the U.S.

Which all goes to show that there is something wrong with the American educational system. I expect that further research will show that creating minimum national standards and adopting a national curriculum for all children, even homeschooled children, will make better prepared students for advanced education.

But of course this discussion is beyond the scope of this forum!

by Vesica on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 06:02:23 PM EST

I have to agree that "something is wrong with the American educational system" or else I would not have homeschooled.  :)  Still, I didn't continue homeschooling because of The System, but because of my children.

Of course, you have a valid point about foreign students coming to the U.S.  But still, they are coming, perhaps in part, because of the greater academic freedom.  The model of greater academic freedom could be one of the attractions, so it is the model I refer to (despite all the problems).

While Singaporean 8th graders might be awarded prizes, Singaporean adults are not awarded them (in our example).  Somewhere there is a breakdown (probably many somewheres).

As for the national curriculum in a pluralistic nation, whose?  To draw the discussion back to this forum's main point (although the original post is about regulation of homeschoolers -- which is an political subject, not a fundamentalist Christian subject), what if the curricular opinion that held sway was that of Biblically literalist adults (most of whom were publicly schooled, not homeschooled), and who, according to some reports, are a majority of Americans? ections/primetime/US/views_of_bible_poll_040216.html
Bible Stories Are "Literally True"  
                                 Red Sea Creation Noah
All                                     64% 61% 60%
Catholics                            50    51    44
Protestants                         79    75    73
Evangelical Protestants         91    87    87
Non-Evangelical Protestants   59    55   50
No Religion                          32    24   29

(the "No Religion" contingent was an eye-opener, although perhaps not a complete culturally-American surprise)

Hypothetically, what then?  

Using the model of a mandatory 'national curriculum,' what if that curriculum included young-earth flood-geology creationism or its scientifically-cloaked alter ego (assuming church/state separation was fudged)?  If that came to be acceptable (given enough time and changes within the judiciary) then where would those of us who use the science and reason model educate our children?  

I believe academic freedom must be the model because to do otherwise jeopardizes the freedom to hold a minority opinion.

by ValerieM on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 02:02:22 PM EST

Well, I have to take those polls with a spoonful of salt, especially when it comes to proclaimed religious beliefs. But in the widely unlikely event that the nation takes that severe of a turn on constitutional case law, I'd say we'd have even greater problems than school curriculums. And if such an event were to occur I'd be the first to petition for absolute deregulation of homeschooling.

I don't think most progressive homeschoolers have much to fear, certainly not from a scholarly examination and a little public dialog.

by Vesica on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 10:17:31 PM EST

I agree about the polls and the improbability of 50-states worth of schools embracing creationistic curriculae.  I wasn't using the poll or the alternative models as an absolute, only as a 'shoe on the other foot'  example.  :)  

As for progressive homeschoolers being 'safe,' the point is that if only certain groups of homeschoolers don't "have much to fear" then there is no true academic freedom for anyone.   Either all people have freedom of thought and expression, or -- depending on which way the political wind is blowing -- only those of us who think in line with the majority have that freedom, up until we think differently, or until another majority rules.

I am also leery of my family life being examined by scholars to determine its acceptability.  

(I realize that the desire for regulation isn't meant to be personal, but for each homeschooling family the discussion is intensely personal because what you're declaring as needing to be controlled is parent-child interaction.)

I happen to have unschoolish 'Waldorfian' tendencies so that my kids did few 'assignments' (I read aloud, and we had long discussions) and they completed no standardized tests until they took their SATs after they received their high school diplomas.  On any lovely day we would adjourn for long bike rides or walks in the woods.  The children played invented games such as "Rosie Concentration" (Rosie made it up and was the M.C.), played Scrabble for spelling, and made doll clothes while I read to them.  I chose everything we used and about the only textbooks were Saxon math texts.  We lived overseas and there was no oversight.  

How comfortable would scholars be with a high-school diplomaed Mom (with 'some college') taking responsibility for basic education and 'high school' and not following a standard school curriculum?  (our 'curriculum' was following history chronologically from 'the beginning' until the present)

Does it change your perception that my publicly schooled son (I didn't hear about homeschooling until he was a senior in high school) and two of my homeschooled kids graduated from their colleges and universities with honors, and that the other one is a veterinary doctor? octor.html

Without having a crystal ball to see how my kids would weather leaving home, is it likely that a scholar-staffed oversight commission would have stamped an imprimatur on my plan had they been presented with it?

As for the public dialogue, I've been doing that for years. g_a_decade_ago/index.html

... as have others:

If the fundamentalists don't have their freedom, then ours is an illusion.

by ValerieM on Mon Jun 11, 2007 at 12:44:43 PM EST

this is not the place to debate the merits of homeschooling per se; or whether regulating home schooling in some way is in general a good idea or a bad idea.

The topic of this site, is the religious right and what to do about it.  Homeschooling is clearly a significant element in the efforts to raise up generations of children to become those who do not embrace freedom (as progressive homeschoolers like to claim for themselves) but to end democratic pluralism as we know it.

My challenge to progressive homeschoolers is this:  how do you propose to deal with the problems posed by those who indocrinate children in theocratic Christian nationalism, or crackpot views of evolution and denial of global warming (as seen in the film Jesus Camp, for one famous example)?  

This is not a problem that in the view of many of us that can be ignored. And there will be growing discussions of how best to address it.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Jun 11, 2007 at 09:17:01 PM EST

... the topic of the main post is "Regulating homeschooling" not "eradicating fundamentalist Christian homeschooling."  

I understand your point about the forum's theme but the problem is, you can't "eradicate" what you see as the indoctrination of children without getting between all parents and their children -- homeschoolers or not.

If X-parents may not tell their children X, then the X-parents are going to insist, in fairness regarding all parents, that Y-parents may not tell their children Y.  You want thought control concerning homeschooling fundamentalist Christian parents and children, which isn't very different from what the Chalcedon-types want concerning the rest of us:  their beliefs as dominant.  In saying "homeschooling" needs to be regulated in order to control the spread of beliefs (from parents who were probably publicly schooled) is like "destroying the village to save it."  And that didn't work either.

Democratic pluralism isn't democratic pluralism if it mandates eliminating points-of-view.  That's why we progressive homeschoolers "claim for ourselves" a belief in freedom.  I figure the erroneous ideas about evolution will go the way of the belief in phlogiston.

And, concerning what progressive homeschoolers should do, well we're speaking up.   That's why I provided those links.

And I forgot a good one:
Homeschooling is legal

As for Jesus Camp, I spoke out about it at my at my "job blog"

and  at my personal blog: jesus.html

The camp apparently has closed from negative acts after all the publicity: umentary-jesus-camp-shuts-down/

I wish the non-ReligiousRight homeschoolers were as organizable as the religious right, but the trouble is that many families on 'our side' (a misnomer but there is no other comprehensive name for those of us homeschooling for other-than-Christian-fundamentalist reasons) don't have an agenda to 'do' anything other than homeschool, whereas those on the religious right are often tied into the evangelizing/Great Commission idea.  When politics is brought up as a topic on some discussion lists, members often post something like, "Enough of the politics.  I'm not political, I just want to homeschool my kids."  Herded cats scratch.

As for how progressive homeschoolers will "deal with the problems posed by those who indocrinate children in theocratic Christian nationalism" (as if we had something to do with allowing it in the first place), well, I guess we'll deal with them like Whole Foods "deals" with Krispy Kreme (or vice versa) -- just keep putting one foot in front of the other and being visible.

by ValerieM on Tue Jun 12, 2007 at 06:36:31 PM EST

There are many ways to approach the serious problems posed by the indoctrination of homeschooled christian children in false sciene and history via home schooling and elsewhere.  Your pooh poohing of the problem out of a reflexive defense of homeschooling as a principle, is IMO, part of the problem and characteristic of too many progressive home schoolers in my experience.

I want to address you frankly and urge you to consider your position. There are too few progressive home schoolers to win very many political arguments and if you share our concerns about these things, they are indeed your problem as citizens of this country as much as they are ours. My advice is to take the problems that are being raised far more seriously if you want to avoid a more generic form of regulation, which I think most people are likely to favor, barring any better ideas.  

In the meantime, we will continue to raise these issues here.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Jun 12, 2007 at 08:14:14 PM EST

How is defending freedom a cop-out?  That's supposed to be the hallmark of our country.

And what do you propose to do to keep parents' attitudes from being passed down to their children?

Leaving aside indoctrination through homeschooling, various polls show that a large number of Americans reject evolution.  This chart looks reasonably credible: f.html

Then, looking at nosecounts of American teens in high schools, it appears from this NCES chart
that roughly 1/14th of all American high school kids are in private schools, which leaves 13/14ths in public schools.  Roughly.  In any case the public schools educate a clear majority of American teens, and have done for over a century.

Now, if the approximately (12 years) x (180 days) x (6 hours per day) schooling of 13/14ths of Americans has not  been enough to convince a larger proportion of them that the scientific method works for evolution as well as it does for nuclear fission, electricity and jets, what could you possibly do to keep a family from passing down erroneous beliefs?

Given that only 2% - 4% of the population are assumed to be homeschoolers (there is speculation that the numbers are inflated in order to create unease), shouldn't the focus perhaps be on the 13/14ths of American teens instead of the sliver of a pie-slice of homeschoolers?

As for me taking things seriously, I don't know how much more serious I can get.  I've invested almost a week in this discussion, and elsewhere I write to the best of my ability days and days out of the week to explain homeschooling -- and have been doing so for years.  I write to my legislators and to local editors.  

I also value this forum, otherwise I wouldn't have an account here, or receive the email updates.  I have referenced this forum elsewhere in online discussions and blog posts: tml  (see comments)

and at my personal blog: t.html

You say I reflexively defend homeschooling, but what I see is a reflexive dislike of it no matter who homeschools.  I'm reminded of Lakoff (as Don't Think of an Elephant is sitting beside me) because I don't think homeschooling fits the mental model of many people.  Because of this lack of fit, no matter what is said is discounted.  What is heard is regarded as fluff, a reflex, or pooh-poohing.  I obviously haven't mastered framing the debate as what I've done this past week is what Lakoff says many liberals do -- present facts and expect them to be considered.  Since the end of the 20th century that hasn't been working very well, and it's apparently a bust here, too.

by ValerieM on Wed Jun 13, 2007 at 12:10:34 AM EST

It matters what you write. Few if any will follow a gazillion links.

No one I have encountered here is reflexively opposed to home schooling. That you make this claim underscores my point precisely.

The cop out is that you will not deal head on with the serious issues raised regarding the Christian right and homeschooling, rather you mostly change the subject or seek to defend homeschooling in general and make sweeping generalizations about -- I have no idea who -- and pretend that we cannot possibly understand homeschooling or why people do it.

Come on down to earth. You may have noticed folks are mostly pretty reasonable around here.

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Jun 13, 2007 at 12:37:51 AM EST

casting sound science and legitimate history as "viewpoints" only aids and abets the perspective of the dominionist Christian homeschooler, and that's an issue that has to be acknowledge by the progressive homeschooling community.

Should their be limits to parental rights and freedom? Does a parent have the "right" to deny their daughter an education altogether and the "freedom" to teach their sons that 2+2=5? Do the children themselves have any rights, or are they more like the property of the family in which the community has no legitimate interest?

by Vesica on Wed Jun 13, 2007 at 07:53:07 AM EST

Who would teach a child 2 + 2 = 5?  What would be the point?  

The questions I see from new homeschoolers concerning curriculum are usually about which one is "best."  "Best" has never included garbage.  Parents -- often the strongly Christian people are what we call the 'school at home' types -- ask about where to buy standardized tests.

And, when the parents do teach their children properly, in the discussions I've been party to, I've heard no one has said, "I'm schooling my son, but our daughter, Cinderella, just does chores."

As for the erroneous science, what about the colleges that are Biblically literalist?  Do they have a right to teach whatever it is that they do in their science classes?  If not, on what grounds?

As for the progressive homeschooling community, what makes you think we haven't acknowledged the problem -- and provided resources?  

One homeschool dad has started The Evolved Homeschooler, a wiki to collect information.  Despite being told that no one will take the trouble to click on a link, you can go look at:

Merchandise with the logo to raise public consciousness is at:

I have a page of science links at:

Rebecca Rupp, a biochemist if I'm remembering correctly, wrote Good Stuff, which was a collection of addresses (pre-Internet) of historical and scientific materials. 2/
She also has a column in Home Education Magazine.

Donn Reed (and his widow Jean who issued the last edition) produced The Home School Source Book that was a combination 'how to' book and catalog.

FUN Books (again, if I'm remembering correctly) took over the inventory of John Holt's Bookstore, from which I bought many of the books they still carry.

Tobin's Lab is another long-term site:

I do the work to provide the information, if you choose to ignore it, well, I can't make you click the links any more than I can make someone click them whose religious beliefs deny science.

by ValerieM on Thu Jun 14, 2007 at 12:13:11 AM EST

I've attempted to address the issues of how the desire for state regulation of the homeschoolers whose beliefs are unacceptable to many people could affect all families, but the discussion has turned into an evaluation of me.

-- cop out
-- pretend
-- pooh pooh
-- part of the problem
-- reflexively defensive
-- don't deal with problems
-- sweeping generalizations

When I replied, echoing your vocabulary by using "reflexively," (I was curious as to how your own characterization would be received) I'm the one who is said to "make a claim."   This discussion is not about me, or whether I'm on earth, or I don't think the discussion should be.  

What should be under discussion is how the restriction of the practice of religion would affect freedom of thought in the U.S.  There is a difference between counteracting the effects of beliefs we see as counter-productive, wrong, or just plain bad (a fellow sent me Chalcedon papers in 1994) and restricting the beliefs.

The point could be made that no one is asking parents not to practice their religion, merely not to pass creationist/Recon/Dominionist/theocratic beliefs down to their children.  The problem is, if (in principle) one group's home life is constrained, then it must apply to all groups otherwise we've got the "some animals are more equal than other animals" ranking.  Where do you draw the line in what families are allowed to discuss over the dinner table?

This thread is titled "regulating homeschooling" and I've asked how you propose to regulate the passing down of beliefs within families when twelve years of public schooling of the majority of Americans for over a century hasn't stopped similar transmissions.  The replies have been about my personal shortcomings which has overtones of shooting the messenger.

The parents who homeschool did not beam down from Spaceship Jesus in orbit since the Ascension, nor emigrate from a Holier Land Than This; they're Americans.  Their beliefs developed in our pluralistic society (most homeschooling parents I know were institutionally schooled, with just one or two exceptions).  

I would venture a guess that there are as many parents in states that strictly regulate homeschooling who pass down their beliefs to their children as there are in unregulated states.  The children in the strictly regulated states often must adhere to mainstream curriculae and complete standardized tests.  What more can be done concerning homeschooling?  Deprive children of their families if the parents want to homeschool, as is being threatened right now in Connecticut?

If six hours a day for 180 days a year hasn't stopped the belief-transmission, what measures do you propose to legislate that will reach into a family?  And how do you propose to limit it only to some families who would then be made less equal than others?  If it becomes illegal for a homeschooling family to discuss creationism, why wouldn't it be equally illegal for the family of publicly schooled children whom they intend to be "salt and light" in the wicked world?  And how do you propose to enforce it?  If public school attendance isn't sufficient to inculcate pluralistic attitudes among a majority of citizens, what is?  How far are you willing to go?

I feel that the defense of homeschooling is probably inseparable from defense of free religious practice (that breaks no laws) because all training of children includes values, attitudes and worldview formation.  I also believe homeschooling is part of the bedrock of academic freedom.  However, because this discussion keeps drifting away from the effects of strictly regulating homeschooling, and attaching itself to what you see as my inadequacies, I must say good-bye.  Discussing this over differences in viewpoint has become taxing enough without also hashing out the deficiencies in my character.  I've got kids to point those out to me.  ;>


by ValerieM on Thu Jun 14, 2007 at 01:30:01 AM EST

Judge Jones' decision [141pp.] now almost two years ago on the Dover, PA School Board's seeking to impose "intelligent design" in its Science classes as a theory as worthy as that of Darwin was soundly rebutted & made for ALL school board members to be defeated soundly in the next election. So, even if 'church/state is fudged' & a climate for receptivity is present within fundamentalism, it doesn't pass muster at school. Further, Judge Jones went out of his way to affirm Church & State Separation when he didn't have to & thus gave us a 'current' statement in Law that Revionists will have to hurdle, no matter how organized. The Bush White House can fudge a pseudo-science as if it were the real McCoy, not a shroud for creationism, and when it dismissed the Office for Science within the WH populated by elected members of Congress who were 'real' scientists by training, one Republican from New England was amongst the small group of five. This has backfired on the WH, just as it would in the shadow of the Dover, PA experience with the Jones decision. Even so, postulating an activism within christian fundamentalism to win over time & change Science exposure to creationist mombo-jombo with a different generation of conservative judges is farfetched. A better observation is NOW & what is happening in much the same way deep within the 'bible belt,' such as South Carolina & Georgia where you already have the judges and fundamentalism is EXTREME & in-your-face. If you had a kid for school there, wouldn't you have to reteach him or her daily with all the subtexts AGAINST reason they hear every day at school? We already have Red states that do as they please willy-nilly in education, & Blue is not a panacea either with rising illiteracy, and not just in minority or immigrant populations.

Be diligent: the law is on your side, even if you may have to claim it publically to survive!
Only in America? Whattadeal.
Arden C. Hander   I have provided a long post on this over at that I will not repeat here but you may seek it.

by achbird65 on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 11:28:17 PM EST

First, know that I have not read Ms. Yuracko's paper and I'm responding to what is posted here.  As a long time homeschooler and HSLDA observer, I believe Ms. Yuracko's opinions are based on the public persona of HSLDA.  In other words, she read their propaganda and wrote about it.

Homeschooling did not `divide' into two distinct movements.  It was split along religious lines by HSLDA in order to create a constituency for Michael Farris' political ambitions.  By denying the existence of non-members, they give "the appearance of power".  When Mr. Farris ran for Lt. Governor in VA in 1993, it was those ready made political "units" that he used to hijack the nominating convention.  He was defeated while the remaining Republican candidates were elected.   HSLDA is a right-wing political lobbying organization disguised as a homeschool advocate.  As a homeschooler I know first hand that the causes they champion often have nothing to do with homeschooling.  For example, they recently advocated against lobbying disclosure; an issue that probably does not affect the average homeschool family but would require HSLDA to disclose how much of member's dues is being spent on conservative political lobbying.  

And, as homeschoolers in many states (MI, NY, NH, PA and many others) are keenly aware, HSLDA's idea of legal protection for homeschoolers often involves increased regulation, not legalization. HSLDA seems to have no desire to put themselves out of business.  Without homeschool families living in fear of their own government HSLDA could not exist.  

As near as I can tell, Ms. Yuracko never looked past the masquerade to see that HSLDA is a political organization, instead choosing to believe the propaganda that pours out of Purcellville designed to instill fear of NOT joining.  Their stated 81,000 member families cannot be verified and would seem to be a small percentage of 2 million homeschooled children.

I do believe HSLDA is dangerous to our political system and our freedom.  But punish all homeschoolers because of the political ambitions of a group of individuals who claim they represent people they don't?  That makes no sense.   The real problem is how they have used their political connections to place people in the White House, the State Department and other government agencies based on their religious affiliation.  When it comes to HSLDA, one needs to look beyond the smoke and mirrors of self-promotion.   It is not homeschool families that need to be regulated; it is a conservative lobbyist posing as an advocacy organization.

by Brainbelle on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 09:47:44 PM EST

no argument that HSLDA is a rightwing political action organization, but coming from a midwestern state where the homeschooling association is in lockstep with their goals, I would argue over the relevancy which you would dismiss. I think they have considerable political clout despite their small numbers. As Ms. Yuracko's paper states,

"the social and legal implications of this phenomenon have received almost no scholarly attention. ...snip... This paper argues, in other words, that while there is an upper limit on how much states can constitutionally regulate and control children's education, there is a lower limit as well.

In my view, a scholarly examination of how homeschooling, especially a politicized homeschooling movement, effects society as a whole is a legitimate pursuit, as well as the notion of there being upper and lower limits to compulsory education. In the US we recognize every child's fundamental right to receive an education. Just as we consider it a community responsibility to see that our children are provided with the basic needs of nutrition and shelter, the community must also be concerned that children are being given the intellectual tools needed to function and contribute in a complex society.

To say that creating minimum standards for home schooling is "punishment" is to suggest that the community has no legitimate interest in the rights of the individual child to benefit from broad and generalized intellectual learning. Like the Yuracko report states, parents cannot separate themselves entirely from society.... there's such a thing as cultural literacy, i.e. shared knowledge everyone is assumed to understand, and homeschooling families should be expected to provide a minimum degree of it.

by Vesica on Sat Jun 09, 2007 at 05:32:56 PM EST

I think the differences here are between "people who homeschool" and "people who don't homeschool".   Within homeschooling we have all seen the results of having one group speak for us all.  We know what happens when one group advocates for legal homeschooling to be a privilege granted though a state-sanctioned religious exemption (membership required).  It's a concept that clearly implies non- religious or "incorrect" religious parents need not apply.   Those of us who have resisted such attempts have learned to resist any attempt to regulate homeschooling by anyone.  We are acutely aware that given the opportunity to regulate, we could easily all be enrolled in "J. R. Rushdoony School of Reconstructionism".  Perhaps that is why we also resist efforts to regulate from the other side.  Personally, I do not want anyone to regulate how I raise my children, right or wrong.  It follows that I do not want anyone to regulate any other family either.   Where is the political belief line drawn?  

Regulation also implies that people will comply.  The families that progressives are seeking to bring around to their way of doing things most likely would not comply.  They do not follow "man's laws".   All it would do is clog the courts and give HSLDA even more power and wealth; their scare tactics just that much more credibility.   HSLDA has only the power they are given.   I cannot advocate giving them more.  

by Brainbelle on Wed Jun 13, 2007 at 12:49:48 PM EST

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