of private-school education and educational freedom, do you care?
advocates have been vigorously fighting philosophical, political, legislative, and
legal battles for about 30 years. It is my experience that proponents of
private education, such as religious, independent, and denominational schools, have
cared very little about this.
the principal of a Roman Catholic elementary or high school, a classroom
teacher in an evangelical day school, a headmaster at a "non-sectarian"
independent school, How important is homeschool freedom to you? Now randomly
select 10 of these kinds of folks and rate their level of excitement.
its most fundamental level, who cares about the freedom of belief and expression
and religion as it pertains to the teaching, training, and indoctrination of
children? One must wonder since about 87% of all parents of school-age children
in the "land of the free and home of the brave" send their children away five
days per week, nine months per year to allow the state to teach, train, and
indoctrinate them. But what if parents choose to have someone other than the
state and its agents do this? How much freedom, from the control of the state,
exists today? And to where are some of the winds of opinion driving society?
many years, I have explained to college and university students, readers of scholarly
journals, professional research organizations, private-school associations, the
homeschool community, and legislators that if advocates of statism think that
the government should control any form of private education, such as home-based
education, then they should logically favor government control of all forms of
private education, such as private institutional schooling. For example, see
this testimony before the Senate Education Committee of the State of Montana:
SB 291 treats
private homeschoolers as if they were funded by taxpayers, but they are not,
and as if this single class of private education should be accountable to the
state. If the sponsor of this bill wishes to hold private home educators
accountable to the state, then to be equitable he should insert provisions to
this bill or introduce a new bill with the same levels of intrusion and control
on all private Catholic, atheist, homeschool, Jewish, evangelical, Lutheran,
Mormon, Muslim, and New Age schools, teachers, and students. If a law like SB
291 were applied to these private institutional schools, perhaps 30% of their
students would need additional intervention and assessment and control by the
government. (Ray, 2005).
have thought this kind of thinking and warning was frivolous, silly. Not so. Why
is it not? Read the following by a professor Robert Kunzman (2009):
Any efforts to
establish testing or add other requirements [to homeschooling], therefore,
would need to apply to the broader realm of on-public, nonaccredited schools of
which homeschooling is a part - raising the degree of complexity and expense
significantly. (p. 211)
is simply properly acknowledging and admitting what I have been trying to
convey to many groups for many years. Kunzman promotes statism as he implicitly
believes the state has prior and higher authority than parents in deciding what
are the "vital interests of children or society" and that state control over
children's lives should be based on "general [state, societal] consensus" and
government control or force (p. 219). This academic, who studied six "conservative
Christian homeschooling" families (p. 2, 7), appears to ineluctably come to the
conclusion that private-school students (i.e., homeschool students and, by
implication, all children attending private institutional schools) should be
forced by the state to undergo "basic skills testing" that is under the
authority of the state and, implicitly, that all private-school students should
be registered with the state (p. 219).
statement should send a clear signal - perhaps signifying the energetic waving of
a red flag - to all those who advocate freedom in education, freedom of
expression, free exercise of religion (or, philosophy), and no state control over
private educational choices or arrangements. One must ask, If parents do not volitionally
hand their children over to the state (i.e., public schools) for teaching,
training, and indoctrination five days per week, why should the state have
control over these children?
Catholic schools and their advocates, Lutheran schools and their advocates, Christian
day schools and their advocates, classical schools and their advocates, "non-sectarian"
independent schools and their advocates, Jewish schools and their advocates,
pagan schools and their advocates - and all advocates of educational freedom -
do you care? If you do, you might want to contact, real soon, your state's
homeschool organization, ParentalRights.org, or the Home School Legal Defense
Association [endnote 1].
you are interested in tangibly supporting our work doing research, collecting
research, disseminating research, and helping homeschool families around the
world, please see "Two ways to help" below.
D. Ray, Ph.D.
Home Education Research Institute
Please feel free to send us your questions about homeschooling and we will try
to answer them in upcoming messages.
Two ways to help:
a check to: NHERI, PO Box 13939, Salem OR 97309 (using a check puts the largest
percent of your gift to work at NHERI)
Robert. (2009). Write these laws on your children: Inside the world of
conservative Christian homeschooling. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Brian D. (2005, February 14). Testimony of Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. before the
Montana Senate Education Committee regarding Senate Bill 291. Presented and
submitted February 14, 2005 to the Senate Education Committee of the State of
Montana, Helena, Montana.