Sunday, April 20, 2014

On Being a Vigilant Homeschooler. . . .

Last Thursday Debi Ketron and I were invited to a meeting with several top staffers in the Governor’s Office to talk about the latest draft of the Indiana Education standards. Because this was the first time we were invited to a meeting of this type, we spoke little and listened much. We were grateful that the Governor’s Office extended an invitation to us; however, I felt a bit out of place since state standards do not apply to homeschoolers. In any case, we were given some interesting handouts that, if interested, you can peruse at your leisure here.

Homeschoolers should oppose Common Core because this is a Constitutional issue. Common Core's attempt is to nationalize education and directly violates states rights. Everyone knows or should know that since the beginning of our nation, educational policy and funding fall squarely within the bounds of state, not federal, government. Any student of the US Constitution understands that national educational standards violate the concept of enumerated powers; so, on principle alone, homeschoolers should join hands to oppose anything that violates state sovereignty. Indiana, through Senate Bill 91, pulled out of Common Core, a bold move that was lauded by many. Now the only question is whether Indiana can actually remove itself from federal standards when federal education money is so enticing. Not only is it enticing, it is political suicide to reject federal funding on which  local schools and parents have become addicted.

With criticism about the new Indiana standards coming from all sides of the political spectrum, I started thinking about homeschooling and why we must remain vigilant to defend our freedom to home educate our children, unhindered from any state (or federal) mandates or intrusions. First, homeschoolers receive no state money and therefore, we have the ultimate freedom to determine the best education for our children. No state official tells us what to teach our children and when to teach it to them. We do not choose our curriculum from a list generated by the bureaucrats in Indianapolis who review curriculum to make sure it meets certain standards. Our standards are simple and curriculum choices depend upon the learning and teaching styles of our children and us.

Second, we have no obligation to “register” with the State of Indiana, so no data is collected on the teacher/parent, our household income, and more importantly, our children. However, we must remain vigilant to make certain this data is not collected, since we have evidence that homeschool information is one of the most sought-after data by some groups who may not have the purest of motives. We can expect to see more data collection bills move through our state and federal government. If ever there was a time to be politically active, now is that time. We cannot afford to lose our homeschool freedoms to some over-reaching bureaucratic agency that looks at children as jobs to be filled rather than individuals with talents and gifts.

Third, homeschoolers come in all shapes, sizes, color, and with a list of motivations longer than the Amazon River! Very few homeschools look exactly the same. The children do not turn out exactly the same because the uniqueness of each child is what makes homeschooling so extraordinary. For example, some children are reading before Kindergarten, while others don’t read fluently until they are 10. Some children learn their ABC’s as toddlers, while others show no interest in learning them until they “have to.” Yes, homeschoolers make mistakes just like professional teachers in public and private schools, but most homeschoolers turn their mistakes into opportunities, rather than obstacles. It takes perseverance and character, not to mention tons of prayer and chocolate!

Finally, homeschooling takes sacrifice.  Anything worth pursuing comes with a price. While we should be concerned about public school standards, we need to keep our eye on the bigger picture: freedom. And with that freedom we are given a great responsibility to fight for and preserve our God-given right to “train up a child in the way that he should go.” If ever there was a time to be politically-active, now is that time.

 The bottom line is that homeschooling places the burden of education squarely where it needs to be placed – on the individual. It shifts education from the state and federal politicians and bureaucrats and places the onus on parents to take control. Don’t ever take this freedom to homeschool for granted, lest we lose it.

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