Homeschooling, in various forms, is no longer seriously controversial. Most state governments have come to peace with the practice. I lived through an era when this was not the case (the 1970s). Our children were schooled in public schools, private schools and home school. My wife was a certified Illinois teacher, as was my son. Both taught in the public schools as Christians and had positive experiences in doing so. But both of us chose to home school at certain points in our journey. My grandchildren are currently homeschooled by their mom Adriana, who is not a certified teacher but is a brilliant and self-disciplined teacher if I ever met one. The girls, Gracie and Abbie, are also as bright and well-balanced as they can be, if I do say so myself. (A grandfather is allowed to write this, but in this case it really is true!)

Homeschooling parents can be insufferably difficult people in local church settings. Stereotypically they can be opinionated conservatives who seek to influence the congregation in ways that can, at times, be divisive. Galclass6_3
But this is not an entirely fair view either since some of the most dedicated, balanced and wonderful Christians that I have known, especially through traveling all over the U.S. to speak to churches of various types, were home school parents. The movement is too diverse to label so cheaply. In fact, many very secular folks now home school precisely because they believe it is a better way to educate, especially in the lower grades.

As a pastor I never taught my church that homeschooling was the right choice. I encouraged each family to study the issues and make up their own mind. I taught them that parenting was not by the numbers and no one approach fit everyone else. We had leaders and faithful members in all three camps; e.g., home school, private school and public school. I still believe, by taking this approach, we never had a single battle in our congregation over how to properly educate a child. We simply refused to turn this into ideological warfare. Simply put, when and where personal ideology is supremely important home schooling can be very divisive.

But, all these years later, some liberals are now trying to attack the right to home school again. I think they will fail but such attacks on personal liberty, especially when something as basic as this has been legal for the duration of American history, should be watched and opposed. Anyone who thinks that some are not out to create a state-controlled solution to all our important personal choices about our families should take especially careful note.

As one example, a California Court of Appeals two weeks ago determined that homeschooling was illegal in California unless a parent is a certified teacher. I thank God that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arnold_great_photo_2
sometimes hated by conservatives because he does not share their social agenda, has so boldly stood with homeschoolers in this battle. The Governor said:

"Every California child deserves a quality education, and parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their children. Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts, and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights then, as elected officials, we will."

Thanks Governor Schwarzenegger for standing up for personal freedom in a very important area of our lives.

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  1. Dave Dryer March 14, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Good post John. As a pastor I’ve often found my greatest responsibility in this debate is to carefully discern the abilities of parents to adequately homeschool their children. Sometimes well-meaning Christian parents will jump on the band wagon for emotional reasons (they heard a good speaker, they went to a rally, etc) but are not prepared or capable of handling the job. They may like the philosophy behind the movement, but they just can’t do it. For them the Christian school may be a better possibility. We’d better care enough to jump into touchy situations like that.

  2. JYoon June 3, 2008 at 12:09 am

    I’m curious to find out your opinion on the classical Christian education movement, if you have any.

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