By Todd Kangas, MPE President
In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah addresses both God’s impending judgment and His future mercy to the children of Israel. The land with the only true God had made their sinful choices, and God was about to allow them to fall captive to the Chaldeans (Jeremiah 32).
I believe this may serve as a warning to those of us who have enjoyed many liberties in our country to date, including our homeschool freedoms that allow us to educate our children in the way we so desire.
A group of homeschool alumni is offering an opinion that the government should oversee parents who educate at home. The media has picked up on this and is trying to support their cause.
There have been articles in many national newspapers (including a recent one in the KC Star) regarding this issue.
What should we do?
There may be abuses in homeschooling, but none that I’m aware of. One of the alumni said they know of some middle school-aged children that couldn’t read.
Whenever I hear accusations of poor performance in the unregulated homeschool environment, I can look at the regulated government schools and see failings.
Let’s look at how public education with government oversight is faring. From the Huffington Post (online Sept. 6, 2013):
According to a study conducted in late April by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read. That’s 14 percent of the population. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read. The current literacy rate isn’t any better than it was 10 years ago. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (completed most recently in 2003, and before that, in 1992), 14 percent of adult Americans demonstrated a “below basic” literacy level in 2003, and 29 percent exhibited a “basic” reading level.
NPR adds this insight in a Dec. 3, 2013, article:
The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, collects test results from 65 countries for its rankings, which come out every three years. The latest results, from 2012, show that U.S. students ranked below average in math among the world’s most-developed countries. They were close to average in science and reading.
My thought is that if you can’t improve the results in the areas you are already controlling, why interfere with our success?
Please be reminded that the government will never achieve far-ranging success in education without involving parents. This is the key: parental involvement.
So should we be afraid? No. Should we be watchful? Absolutely!
How should we proceed? Jeremiah 32:39 has a beginning point for our homes. “I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them.”
There needs to be a unity of purpose, first in the home between mom and dad about what’s going on. Our children need to see our commitment to them in our choice to homeschool.
Next, we need to corporately express solidarity in our support for this freedom. Events like the upcoming Day Under the Dome in Topeka serve as a good rallying point and demonstrate our unity for this purpose.
Additionally, take some time to remind your students of why you made this choice. Share with them your goals. Ask them what we as parents could do better. Their feedback might surprise you.
Enjoy the journey. I know it is hard some days, but take some time to express love, smile, and give some hugs. A joyful homeschool will foster better long-term relationships and your children will still perform well academically.
One of the keys to the long-term success of homeschooling is in the quality of relationships we develop with our children as they are being instructed at home.
We want to win the hearts of our children. Too much pressure to perform academically, too much criticism of their efforts, or too much control over their decisions may wound their spirit and spoil the fruit we are trying to nourish.
Remember God is looking to support your efforts, and He does this through grace and mercy.