Homeschooling is as political as it is a movement in education. Homeschooling is frequently associated with the religious right. Therefore, “right-wing” political causes are attached to home schooling. Take Generation Joshua for example. This is a civics program offered through HSLDA that teaches youth about civics by putting them on the campaign trail. Even HSLDA itself takes up causes that are not only central to home schooling but are central to conservative Evangelical Christian values.
Interestingly, recent statistics show there are about 1.2 million homeschoolers in the United States. However, those who would identify themselves as Christian Evangelicals make up less than 5% of that 1.2 million. The faces of home schooling now are Muslim, Jewish, pagan, Catholic and everything in between. But when it comes to capital hill, you only hear about the conservative right. Where has the other 95% gone?
Before I go further, if you don’t already know, I must tell you that I am a part of that religious right. I think Generation Joshua is a fantastic idea, I support almost everything HSLDA is promoting on capital hill and we belong to a Christian homeschooling support group. I likely wouldn’t even allow my children to attend a co-op that wasn’t Christian. But home schooling sectarianism, I fear, will hurt the homeschooling cause in the long run.
Homeschooling sectarianism, is not the same as teaching your children your values or religion. Homeschooling sectarianism says, “we can’t work with you on this homeschooling issue because we don’t agree with your ideology or world view.” And it goes both ways. I know several Christians who will not attend a rally with non-Christian homeschoolers because they can’t agree with their beliefs. They’ll only attend “Christian sponsored rallies.” I’ve also read numerous “secular” or “all-inclusive” group’s materials that warn their homeschoolers to “shun the right wing homeschoolers.” They feel it is unfair of a group to push their core values on the whole homeschooling community.
What I can’t quite figure out is why I have to agree with stated religious beliefs or whether or not same sex marriages are constitutional in order to agree that the right to homeschool should be protected. I’m not even sure that I have to agree with your methodology in order for us to be on the same page about certain homeschooling issues. The right for a parent to homeschool, is simply a right. It does not need to be polarized.
I am against the burdensome paperwork requirements in New York State. I also think it’s pretty crummy that my daughter, when she’s graduated, will have to obtain a GED if she wants to go to a SUNY or CUNY school. I imagine there are a lot of other homeschoolers who would agree with me–even though I’m one of those right wingers. When it comes to educational policy, the homeschooling would do a lot better to look beyond personal word views and join for a greater good.