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    Down on the Publicly Funded Farm

    March 15, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    I received an email today announcing our church homeschooling group’s Farm Day. And then I noticed where said Farm Day is taking place: a local charter school, a public charter school.

    A school funded by you. And me. But mainly you, since we don’t really pay all that much in taxes.

    I am really missing Spunky today. She could say all of this a lot more clearly than I’m about to. It was Spunky that really got me to think long and hard about what I really believe in regard to homeschooling. And so I am about to quote her endlessly.

    The way I see it, there are two major philosophical/religious/political issues surrounding education, from which all other controversies tend to stem. The first is what Scripture says. The second is what the U.S. Constitution says. There are plenty of nonchristians who decide to homeschool due to the fact that the public school system as we know it is blatantly unconstitutional. In fact, I’ve long been considering writing on my political views surrounding homeschooling.

    But for today, I will stick to the charter school issue as defined by Spunky:

    For the record, I don’t care what curriculum Dan or anyone else chooses to homeschool their children. It’s your right as a parent to pick whatever you feel is appropriate. But not all who call themselves homeschoolers ARE homeschoolers. Some are public schoolers at home. Let’s not get sloppy and allow the term “homeschooling” to become generic for anyone who just decides that the public school building is not to their liking but the curriculum and state control are just fine by them. I’m not saying the term “homeschooling” should only be reserved for those who teach the Spunky approved way, but that the term should not be so broad as to include those that homeschool the state approved way either.

    The emphasis there was added by me because I think this is a critical distinction, one I often hesitate to make in public because we have people in our lives that we hold quite dear who have chosen to public school at home, and feel free to call themselves “homeschoolers.”

    Public charter schools, with their farm, shop, “free” zoo passes and museum passes and computers, are quite tempting, especially for parents who think their kids would benefit from these things and who cannot {or will not} afford these things. And I am not here to criticize someone for choosing this route, at least not today {though I have already stated that it is unconstitutional}. But let me state clearly that I firmly believe days like “Farm Day” are specifically designed to woo our local homeschooling masses back into the place the government prefers they be: under governmental control.

    The point is aptly made by Spunky:

    It is important that the definition of homeschooling be determined by who the student is ultimately accountable to.

    And why?

    A distinction is necessary to ensure that the freedom to homeschool is not lost through increased regulation. If we combine the two groups then when the state seeks to increase regulation or make changes to the “schooling at home” crowd the “homeschooling” crowd could be affected by the changes and potentially lose some of the authority to direct the education of their children.

    In other words, allowing the term “homeschooler” to become generic may eventually threaten the liberty of the true homeschooler when the charter schools start to change the rules a bit. The more separate we remain, the less we are threatened by the charter schools.

    So charter schoolers are not homeschoolers. Chant it with me like a mantra.

    Also, be watching the sidebar Read What I’m Reading section for articles on the state of affairs in the world in regard to homeschooling, specifically posts from HSLDA. There is a huge fight in Germany going on right now. Homeschooling parents are being arrested under laws created by Hitler to maintain strict State control over German children. We must always remember that homeschooling is an act of liberty, a liberty that is not recognized by the constitutions of many countries around the globe. The U.S. is still very unique in the world.

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  • Reply Brandy March 16, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Really, he’d be satisified with ANY zoo. I think we’re trying to figure out going to the LA Zoo, or maybe Fresno, though I’m a bit partial to the giraffe with the crooked neck at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

    We would love to make the trip your direction sometime, but gas has to go down first! 🙁

  • Reply Kimbrah March 16, 2007 at 6:57 am

    Which zoo? Maybe we could hook you guys up if you want to come for a visit and stay with us. We have passes for the zoo and Wild Animal Park. Not to mention all of the other cool stuff to do down here. Let us know if your interested.

  • Reply Brandy March 16, 2007 at 1:33 am

    Thanks, Karla!

    Living according to conviction can be so difficult sometimes. I confess I have been tempted more than once by the zoo passes–my son wants to go to the zoo so badly! Of course, he will go someday, but a season pass would be a dream-come-true for him!

  • Reply Karla March 15, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Great post! I needed to be reminded of that… We choose to make sacrifices to be able to “afford” those kinds of things for our kids. It’s worth it to me.

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