One of the largest homeschool advocacy organizations in the country is the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSDLA), which may sound innocuous. It’s not.
Homeschooling was primarily an interest of progressive hippie-types when people began re-considering it in earnest in the 1970s (re-considered because, at one point, everyone was “homeschooled”). Then conservative Christians got it into their heads that their rights regarding their children were being taken away and that their children were being indoctrinated with a secular liberal agenda inculcated through studying the very “controversial” kinds of things commonly included in public school curricula (like American history, biology, and novels). In 1983, HSLDA was born.
One of the missions of the HSLDA is to make it possible for parents to teach their kids whatever and however they want: “HSLDA’s primary mission is to protect the legal right of parents to homeschool from agents of the state.” Their organization has been a primary force in the loosening of regulation around homeschooling. While this has allowed many progressive, secular people to offer an alternative (and perhaps even superior) education to their own few children who are isolated from the poor urban children who could most benefit from the presence of these families in public schools,* it has also allowed a lot of nincompoops to run amok.
Nincompoops may seem like strong language, or religious bias, or a general slur fueled by my overall opposition to homeschooling, but really, I do mean nincompoops, and that language is much milder than some of the words I considered.
Here are some thoughts from HSLDA:
"We oppose the UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child because it would strip parents of much of their authority to educate, train, and nurture their children according to the dictates of their conscience." (You may want to see my previous post on homeschooling in order to preserve corporal punishment: http://badhomeschooler.tumblr.com/post/1042733194/why-i-hate-homeschooling-4-crazy-people-violent)
"We understand that the financial pressures faced by families today make publicly subsidized educational programs very attractive. But if accepting government subsidies forfeits your right to teach your children in the way you desire, that price is very high indeed." (note that they mean teaching them anything you darn well please, like that the moon landings never happened. Think I’m kidding? See here under "Melissa": http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/05/raised-quiverfull-homeschooling-q-3.html)
"The reason we have parental rights is because our law assumes that God gave children to parents, not the state. If we eliminate the assumption of God from our law, parental rights and human rights themselves are impossible." (This is also one of the main components in their argument against marriage equality. For some reason, other than homeschooling, the marriage issue is one of the only political issues the organization addresses)
When progressives advocate for their right to homeschool their kids, do they consider the flipside—that if they can do it because they are smart and capable, the right of parents to homeschool goes to all parents, including those who are ignorant and inept?
By the way, I am very pleased to say that In HSLDA’s conception, we DO NOT actually homeschool because Rhino takes online courses through Independent Study High Schools: “The mission of Home School Legal Defense Association has always been to defend the rights of families who desire to privately homeschool their children. Homeschooling through charter schools or public school independent study programs is actually a form of public education, and thus falls outside of HSLDA’s mission. It is our longstanding policy not to accept as HSLDA members families whose children are enrolled in such a public school option.”
You can access HSLDA’s website here: http://www.hslda.org/join/default.asp
I have to say that HSLDA’s opinion that we are actually engaging in public education rather than homeschooling is a great relief to me on more fronts than I can count. I love having Rhino’s education meet certain standards that are set by a force larger, and perhaps even more knowledgable, than her mother.
* Many progressive secular folk also justify giving their children exclusive advantages through suburban or private schooling, which I also find highly problematic. I would also like to remind everyone whom I am no doubt offending that I AM HOMESCHOOLING MY CHILD, and I considered private school for her as well. This blog helps me consider the repercussions of my decisions for society as a whole, not just for my own child.