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This is Homeschooling Freedoms At Risk
HSFAR Part 1 | HSFAR Part 2 | HSFAR Part 4
Rights and Responsibilities: Are We Losing Them?
Many of us, in our complacency, have
come to believe we have the right to homeschool our children. That is true.
We do have that right. Along with that privilege is the responsibility
involved in home education. And many of us have dealt with that, too. We
know we have taken upon ourselves the privilege and obligation to educate
our children in the best possible way. Amen. So simple, right?
Wrong. It isn't that simple. Among homeschoolers, who I have always
believed were the new freedom fighters, a great schism has occurred. Many
people have failed to understand the connection between privilege and
responsibility. They are freedom fighters in name only. Instead of letting the
school superintendent tell them how to educate their children, they are
letting the homeschool leadership of a neighborhood, city, state, or national
assembly tell them how to educate their children.
I see many people
falling into the trap of believing they are educating their children when, in
fact, they have turned over their liberty to some other authority figurehead.
People who have shown great spirit and have worked through much difficulty
to regain custody of their children from the school system are being
convinced to again allow some other bureaucracy make the decisions
concerning the who, when, and why of their family life and education.
Many of these organizations are encouraging people to turn over their
own personal power. They are encouraging their constituency to let the
alliance make decisions, let the group design the system of education best
suited for their children. Membership is encouraged to "trust" the leadership
to "know" what is best for the collective associates. Member input and
options are kept to a minimum. The leadership makes all decisions and
passes these decisions down to the membership.
I see two different
bands: those that wish to maintain control over the decisions that affect
their families, and those opting to give that control to their local, state, or
national homeschooling association. The people, the individual, has the
power, the right, the responsibility to make decisions for themselves. No
matter how hard an association tries to convince the individual s/he doesn't
have that freedom, or the information to make a choice, the individual does
have the power. In our complacency, we have allowed the government, in its
many forms, to convince us we are not capable of making certain decisions.
We have been happy to give up the opportunity to make some choices
because we don't want the responsibility that goes along with it. "If I send
my child to school, and the child doesn't learn, I am not responsible for
his/her illiteracy. It is the school's fault s/he hasn't learned." The parent
gives up the power, the particulars of the child's education and also the
responsibility for the education. It's a nice safe package. "They" can be
blamed -- and given the credit -- for the child's education. The parent is
absolved of the responsibility. Or so the bureaucracy would have us believe.
That's not the truth. Deep down inside, each of us knows this. The parent is
always ultimately responsible for the child. And the parent knows what is
best for his or her own child.
We have worked hard in many states to
keep from answering to a state bureaucracy about the curriculum we use, or
don't use. Many have worked to have testing abolished or at least minimized.
All of these efforts were done to expand the parameters of the
homeschooling family's personal options. Again, so many individuals are
giving up those hard fought for freedoms by turning over those same personal
choices to an organized group. They are allowing an association to decide
which curriculums, which books, which tests, which support networks have
their approval, and can be used. Without questioning this, families are
accepting these arbitrary decisions. Without meeting any of the members of
this or that support network, the state or national group's endorsement tells
me if I do or don't want to meet these individuals.
are leaders, not followers. Homeschoolers have chosen to take the
responsibility for their own lives. They do not defy authority, they question
it. We must recognize that these privileges we have worked so hard to
establish concerning education are individual and personal. These liberties
are part of the freedoms included in the framework of our founding fathers
(and mothers) declaration of independence. Freedoms so important that
thousands have, and continue to, risk their lives to establish and preserve
them. When any sect sets itself up to define these rights, sets itself up to
choose these rights, sets itself up to take the responsibility of the outcome
of the enactment of those rights for us, we have lost everything we have
struggled so long and hard for.
Homeschoolers! Recognize the
"organization" of homeschooling for what it is -- an attempt to control and
manipulate our choices for the greater glory of the organization's leadership.
The power of these groups is not drawn from the combined freedom of the
membership. It is created by diminishing the individual members' autonomy.
All that is accomplished by these highly organized contingents is not done to
provide independence for the membership, it is done to bring tighter control
over the membership, to diminish even further the freedoms of the members,
and to ultimately escalate the power of the leadership.
responsibility for your freedom. Examine what is given to you. Question
decisions made for you. Take the leap of faith -- trust your own instincts.
Only you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family. Stand up
and be counted as an individual supporting your own and others' privileges
and responsibilities. History has shown us repeatedly that when we allow
the autonomy of any society to be diminished, more and more is taken from
that group. When we contribute to the schism of the national homeschooling
community, we contribute to the erosion of the independence of the
homeschooling community at large. If the highly structured organizations
allow the freedoms of the unstructured coalitions to be taken away, soon the
freedoms of the structured alliance will be attacked.
The time has
come for homeschoolers to stop arguing among themselves and join together
to protect the freedom of all people. We must protect the opportunity to
choose public education, private education, structured homeschooling,
unstructured homeschooling, religiously based homeschooling and secular
based homeschooling. If we allow anyone's choices to be diminished, we
allow our own choices to be compromised.
"In Germany they first
came for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't
a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up
because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me--and by that time no one
was left to speak up." Pastor Martin Niemoller
Becky Olson, mother
of five, has been a long-time homeschooling leader in the Tucson, Arizona
Bitter Pill-ars To Swallow
An Essay About Service, Ethics, and Personal Empowerment
by Linda Winkelreid-Dobson
Doc Preston, too. Short in stature, a giant in heart, he's a pediatrician par
excellence. No white jackets here; his casual sweater and shoes remind you
he's a person first and foremost, yet still as professional as the next guy.
Welfare kids and the sons and daughters of rich businessmen -
black, white, yellow and brown - are greeted with the same smile, respect,
and sense of awe all children deserve.
When first he became my new
pediatrician when I was thirteen, I thought him an old coot, asking all those
personal questions instead of just taking my blood pressure and temperature.
I'm still amazed at how much he learned between then and the birth of my
first child twelve years later. Though many years and many more miles
separate us, Doc Preston shines as a beacon by which I measure the light of
the heart and soul of all professionals. Today it takes just one visit to
discover whether a practice is Hippocratical - or hypocritical. Men and
women as selfless and dedicated as he in homeschooling are the first I'd
bestow the title of "pillar" on. Funny, isn't it though, but folks like Doc
Preston would shun the title, anyway.
And what of self-appointed
pill-ars? It's a title that feeds the ego; Doc Preston's ego faded long ago. It's
a title that begs respect; Doc Preston earns his. It's a title that serves its
bearer as a shield; Doc Preston has nothing to hide.
What bothers me
most about hiding behind words like pill-ar and Christian is not the terms,
but that which I discover is being hid - lies, fraud, slander, and a
divide-and-conquer methodology reminiscent of the most evil, hostile
takeovers in recent history.
Normally, I'd say any group who needs
to stoop to such duplicity to gain power doesn't warrant attention - they
usually die by their own hand. But this group preys on the most powerful
emotions and vulnerabilities of humanity; ignorance (that of the new
homeschooler seeking service), greed (I want my child to have/be the best),
and most viciously, fear (don't mingle with the heathens!).
about it. You're a new homeschooler and you hear of a workshop within
travelling distance. You gladly dig into your pocket and plop down money to
hear what the "expert" has to say. He says you must spend thousands of
dollars for a proper home education. You believe him. And he just happens to
have thousands of dollars worth of material to sell you.
about the attorney, well-versed in state regulations, who has raised fear
mongering to an art form? He tells you your state regulations are fine today,
but "we've got trouble brewing right here in River City." He just happens to
sell insurance to "protect" you. Do you buy?
I've got nothing against
people making a buck. But any pill-ar forced down my throat is a bitter
pill-ar, indeed. Particularly at a time when humankind's very survival
depends heavily on unity, cooperation, and our ability to raise ethics and
service above profit. Those of us who oppose separatism and exclusivism
must speak out to protect the service, ethics, and personal empowerment in
which we place our trust.
It seems the moment we put our faith in
experts in any profession, the fees increase in direct proportion. Personal
energy, and thus, ability, dissipate. Our own energy mingles with theirs, and
theirs grows beyond energy to explode in power. Are not the queer politics of
power merely representative of the price for relieving ourselves of the
obligation, responsibility, and constant vigilance personal power requires?
Perhaps the most bitter pill-ar to swallow is the justification
offered by taking scripture passages out of context, further distorting the
beautiful truths Christ taught 2000 years ago. My patience wears thin with
folks who don't know me or my family, who don't comprehend me or my
homeschooling purpose, and who don't care to do either, yet they profess to
validate my political beliefs through absurd public statements, create
regulations that have me contemplating moving out of my state, and hold on
their shoulders the weight of a burden I long ago chose to bear myself. I don't
want justification - I want truth.
When a publication refuses to
consider my writing because I will not sign a statement of faith, I choke on
that pill-ar. There is nothing Christ-like about closed minds, closed doors,
closed policies, or closed hearts. Indeed, these states are anti-Christ and go
against the very fiber of His message of understanding, compassion,
acceptance, and love. Bitter pill-ars gag, separating us from the
life-sustaining joy of free thought, feelings, and deeds accomplished in love.
I see quacks prescribing miracle "pill-ars" for every homeschool
growing pain, searching for a way to capitalize on any suffering it may be
causing, getting so lost in the opportunities for power they represent that,
at best, the good of the movement is lost in both mind and heart. At worst,
the good of the movement as a whole is never even considered.
if it were, what would be their Christ-like response? Would it not embody
truth instead of lies, guidance instead of dictatorship, giving instead of
receiving, unity instead of divisiveness?
I remember Doc Preston
getting us through 3 cases of chicken pox, 10 bouts of the flu, and at least a
dozen ear infections via Ma Bell, because he shared his wisdom via the
6:30-7:30 AM call-in hour, saving patients countless time and expense if an
office visit wasn't really necessary. He taught me how to mix a batch of
home-made cough syrup which worked just as well as store bought, yet was
healthier and safer to administer. When I called him not long after we moved
away because the kids were sick and I had yet to find competent medical
care, he spent half an hour reminding and assuring me that I, too, possess the
knowledge and love necessary to see them through.
This, my friends,
is the kind of person the homeschooling movement needs, and in fact, already
has. I, along with folks all across the country, field innumerable phone calls
every day, sharing information and a warm, loving approach with anyone who
asks. Just yesterday a woman returned a stack of books and magazines I
loaned her because she intends to begin homeschooling her oldest in the fall.
Just in time, too, because a teacher's college student in Rochester is
scheduled to call this evening for information he needs for a paper he's
preparing on the subject. Is there fame? Profit? A title? No, there's a
greater reward - the joy of Christ-like service, not in name, but in deed.
Thanks, pill-ars, but you're too hard to swallow. I'll continue
seeking out the Doc Prestons of the world. And we'll continue building the
solid foundation that makes pillars not only unnecessary, but tastelessly
ostentatious. Personal empowerment -sharing what we have and know freely
with others, and turning to true friends who do the same in our time of need
- is working just dandy. Maybe you should try it.
This is Homeschooling Freedoms At Risk
Part 3 - Please Continue
1 | HSFAR Part 2 | HSFAR Part 4
Editors Note Electronic Edition
- Homeschooling Freedoms At Risk: The original collection was put together to
be read as a whole, and in fairness to all involved this electronic version
should be no different. Because of its length, Homeschooling Freedoms At
Risk has been uploaded in four parts labelled Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part
4. Please read this file in its entirety.
Copyright 1991, Home
Electronic Version Copyright 1996, Home Education
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