Are Independent Homeschoolers Becoming Extinct?

It seems as though the independent homeschooler has become an
endangered species; soon to be as extinct as the Dodo bird.

I’m going out on a limb by sharing now, because I do not want to
offend anyone who has joined up with the charter school program.

I have many friends who are no longer on the same homeschool journey as I am, and I treasure their friendships, yet I feel like I need to take a stand on this issue.

Please, please know my heart….it is to inform so that families can
know the full implications of their decisions. There are hardly any voices left to tell the story of the early homeschool movement. If I don’t speak up who will tell the story?

It seems as though folks everywhere are singing the praises of the charter schools. I feel as though I need to share some of my homeschool journey and my reason for homeschooling independently from the government.

My DH and I went to our first homeschooling meeting in 1982!!!!!! That was many years ago. I’m dating myself, I know. We heard about homeschooling on the radio and at that time it was really a radical thing to do, it was still in the growing and learning stages although it would soon become an option for families.

Folks were scared but excited. There was a possibility of having your children removed or even going to jail, but the pilgrims who carved the way for us persisted and today because of these pioneers we all have the freedom to homeschool. What brave souls they were!! My husband and I were excited about the possibilities of educating our children at home.

We were sad that children never came!!! I was tempted to beg my sister to homeschool her children, and for a while I lived vicariously through my best friend who was homeschooling her son and followed their world closely.

Thankfully and finally, 14 years later we adopted children and we were delighted to be parents.We could finally think about homeschooling. Yippy!!! It was our turn. 🙂

Even though the early 1980’s were hostile towards homeschooling, by the 1990’s homeschooling prevailed because of superior organization, numerical dominance, and the tenacity of these brave folks. So, today, I do not have the same concerns as the folks did in the late 70’s-early 80’s. I’m still grateful for HSLDA though and keep their number handy just in case the government comes knocking. (by the way those in charters do not have to join HSLDA, as they are not actually “homeschooling” so they do not need to be protected).
The early homeschooling looked quite different than it does today. Just imagine…..there were no catalogs, no internet, no cell phones, no boxed curriculum.  Homeschoolers needed each other. It was in a way like a community, a family….it was a political movement and ideology that said “We can do a better job at teaching our children; we don’t need a “professional” to teach our children to read. We don’t need the government to help us raise our families.

Those who were Christians were homeschooling in order to teach from a Biblical worldview, disciple their children and desired to weave Biblical teaching throughout their children’s curriculum.For many, in the early days, the decision to homeschool was a purposeful act of taking their children out of government indoctrination that was in conflict with their values.

Now today for me, the root of the issue, is not the perks, how nice the teachers are how fun the classes are or if they “let me pray” (as long as I don’t put it in the lesson plan).  For those who homeschool out of value conviction, none of the perks really matter . Can we be bought? Do we want to partner with government schools because they have appealing programs?

These programs did not happen by accident but are part of an agenda to bring homeschoolers back into government schooling and bring money back into the schools. The schools do not deny this fact. Because many folks do not know their homeschool history; new homeschoolers are not aware of these dynamics. The public schools have changed on the surface from threatening to take our children away, to throwing us a party, giving us free piano lessons and lots of art supplies too!!

If folks would get informed and check out what the NEA’s opinion on homeschooling is they would see their true colors just as the early homeschoolers experienced..

As statistics began to reveal the academic success of homeschooled children, homeschooling became more main stream and eventuality all fifty states passed laws allowing parents to teach their own children.  State laws relaxed and homeschoolers were able to be more free and flexible than ever before. It’s amazing to think that these sweet mom’s…..many with only high school diploma’s, with no computers or boxed curriculum, or any help from the government were able to teach
their children better than the “professionals.” I have a pen-pal and a friend who were both pioneers in these early days and I love to hear their stories of their very organic, home-spun co-ops and homeschool events. Like I said before, they really did need each other and they helped create wonderful memories for their children.

I’m sad to say that by the time I began homeschooling, I was at the
tail end of this movement. Many of my homeschool friends began to join the public school programs again through the charter schools. I understand the pull especially because folks are so strapped financially today. I understand the governments feeling about the homeschooling movement as well. The school districts receive about 4-7 thousand dollars per student when you enroll your child in their program. This tax payer money varies from district to district. The test scores of the public schools students are despairingly low. They are desperate to get the homeschoolers back. They need the money and they need the higher test scores that the Mom’s around their kitchen table are able to produce.

In closing, I want to once again say that my heart goes out to the families who are wanting the best for their children. My intent is not to make a judgment about each families decision.

I think educational options are good and I support them. I support vouchers and charters for those who are not seeking to educate from a Christian perspective and for those who cannot homeschool. However, we need to know what we are actually doing when we sign up for a charter school, and know the ramifications of our decisions on our families and the future of homeschooling.

My passion comes because I believe these charter schools will
eventually erode our homeschool freedoms just as it has already affected the homeschool community now. I realize that the government schools have been around forever and will continue.

My gripe is not only with the public school but is with the homeschoolers who are believers, and who want educational freedom and yet are so willing to join hands with the very people who would have taken their children away from them a few decades ago.

If you have chosen to join up with the government in order to teach your children, I challenge you to stand up and be proud.
I’d want you to hold your head up high and say “I’m proud and happy to be back in the public school system again” but please do not say that you are a homeschooler. Just proudly proclaim that you are doing public school at home.

Although I am not one of the pioneers, I feel a responsibility to tell
the story and protect the definition of homeschooling and not silently watch a public school take-over of homeschooling as I see happening today. I’ve been called a dinosaur in that my views are ancient, but to me true homeschoolers are at risk of becoming extinct and being replaced by the public school student. It’s a sad day when homeschoolers have to be afraid to talk about real homeschooling to other “homeschoolers” It is a sad day when homeschoolers cannot find other independent homeschoolers to co-op with. It’s also sad to have a curriculum fair and not be able to sell your treasured books anymore because all the “homeschoolers” in your neighborhood have received ton’s of shiny new books from the government. Seems I can’t even give my valued Pathway or Abeka readers away these days. It’s really sad and it’s no fun being a Dodo.

Thanks for reading my ramblings….I’ll step down from my soapbox now.

NEA’s opinion on homeschooling:

Click Here to read more!

B-75. Home Schooling The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.

The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools.

The Association further believes that local public school systems should have the authority to determine grade placement and/or credits earned toward graduation for students entering or re-entering the public school setting from a home school setting. (1988, 2006)

Anne

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