Over the past several years there has been a mass exodus of children out of the public school systems of America. Many have been enrolled in private schools; thousands of others are being “home-schooled” by their parents. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 850,000 American students were being home-schooled in 1999.
There are several factors for this dramatic shift in the educational tutoring of our nation’s youngsters.
- In glaring contrast to more tranquil times, many school campuses have become danger zones. Metal detectors screen students for knives and guns, while in some cases, armed security personnel monitor the halls. Some youngsters are hesitant even to visit school restrooms for fear of assault. It certainly is unnecessary at this point to rehearse the school tragedies that have shocked our sensibilities in recent years.
- Languishing under the oppressive influence of the National Educational Association, many school systems have become hotbeds for the dissemination of radical and immoral ideology. The idea that human beings are the products of divine creation is ridiculed, and students are shamelessly indoctrinated with the notion that they are but “naked apes.” Sexual exploration is encouraged and accommodated by the distribution of birth-control devices. Aberrant sexual lifestyles are touted as “normal,” and those who espouse Christian moral principles are persecuted as “right-wing” extremists.
- Many of the educational “powers that be” in this country feel that when a child enters the public system he or she becomes the responsibility of the government, and parental rights assume a subordinate status. It has become a matter of “control.”
A Federal judge in Texas said: " . . .parents give up their rights when they drop children off at public school." A Harvard professor of education/psychiatry told an audience attending a seminar in Denver that all children who enter the school system at five years of age are “mentally ill,” having already been contaminated by the traditional family influence. He opined that it was the school’s duty to “make all these sick children well.”
- The educational machinery itself has degenerated significantly over the past half-century. Many high school graduates today could not begin to pass the requirements of McGuffey’s Fifth Reader of a century ago. In a speech before the U.S. Senate a while back, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) lamented the sorry educational job that our schools are doing, despite the fact that the federal government pours billions of dollars into the system each year. It is hardly a secret that “Johnny” can barely read, write, or calculate — by the time he finishes his schooling.
These distressing realities, and perhaps others, have driven many parents to alternative sources of education for their children. This writer personally knows of several public school teachers who are educating their own youngsters at home!
One of the prime arguments in the arsenal of those who are critical of the home-education phenomenon is that, supposedly, it fosters an isolated environment that deprives children of adequate “socialization.” It is this very “socialization,” in many cases (1 Cor. 15:33), that is so dangerous to our precious youth.
A recent article by journalist Tonya Taylor disputes the “socialization” charge. Ms. Taylor cites a new study out of the Fraser Institute, a public-policy organization in Vancouver, British Columbia. Director Claudia Hepburn is quoted as follows:
“Popular belief holds that homeschooled children are socially backward and deprived, but research shows the opposite: that homeschooled children are actually better socialized than their peers” (quoted in: Christianity Today, December 3, 2001, p. 17).
Taylor further notes that home-educated children are “friendlier, more independent, and more socially developed” than children in either private or public schools. They also have higher self-esteem. The study suggests that the homeschool advantages may result from having parents, rather than peers, as their primary role models.
The Fraser study also revealed that by the eighth grade, domestically educated youngsters are approximately four grades above the national level, and they tend to “score significantly higher on standardized college entrance tests.”
Yes, it takes determination, dedication, and discipline to educate children at home. But the evidence is piling up that it is worth it. We salute those who are able to educate their children in this fashion.