Sometimes home schoolers tell me that they are too busy to be involved in politics or that they think THSC is too political. It is a sign of the times that home school families in Texas have so much freedom that they can ignore the process by which we choose our government.
It was not always so. As I’ve often mentioned, the 1980s were a perilous time for home school families all over the country, but especially in Texas. More than 100 families were prosecuted by the state for teaching their children at home in those years. The Texas Education Agency had taken the position (reversing almost 70 years of policy) that home schools were not private schools and therefore students being taught at home were truant. Everyone who decided to teach their children at home in those days knew that they were taking a chance and that we had to be involved in the political process to protect ourselves.
While some today think that those days are gone for good, the family who contacted us last month because a Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) worker told her she could not homeschool would beg to differ. Also, home schoolers in New Jersey are fighting legislation that has been filed in both chambers of the state legislature that would bring draconian regulations on home schoolers in that state.
The “Occupy Wall Street” movement has listed among its many demands, along with “banning the private ownership of land,” to “make home schooling illegal because religious fanatics use it to feed their children propaganda.” This desire to take away a parent’s right to direct the education of their children puts them in the company of Germany, Switzerland, and Brazil, to name a few, and these folks purport to speak for the “99%.”
I met with the new commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services and the assistant commissioner of CPS last week to discuss problems that home school families face with uninformed caseworkers regarding caseworkers’ authority over home schooling. It was a profitable discussion, and they agreed to update the policy and make sure that caseworkers are trained to understand that they have no authority over home schooling.
That meeting and policy update to protect innocent home school families was facilitated by Governor Perry’s office. Governor Perry has been a longtime supporter of home schooling and parental rights. In the days when home schoolers were prosecuted, we learned that our freedom was always at risk and that whenever there was an election we had to be involved in order to educate candidates about home schooling and parental rights. We now work for those who understand that and oppose those who think the government, rather than fit parents, is better equipped to make decisions for children.
While some will continue to complain that THSC and I are too focused on politics and that we spend too much of our time talking about campaigns, the good news is that home schoolers have become known as political activists, and that, in turn, gives us influence. If we adopt the view that we have nothing to fear and as a result ignore the elections and public policy debates that rage around us, we may wake up one day, as our home school friends in New Jersey have, to find a full-fledged assault on our home school freedom in Texas, or we might find ourselves in the midst of a national assault just like home schoolers in Germany, Switzerland, and Brazil.
Our children are too precious and our freedom too dear to close our eyes and ignore the sounds of the political wars around us. We must make sure that when our children begin to teach our grandchildren in their homes they have at least as much freedom to do so as we have enjoyed. Anything less would be a tragedy. I hope and pray that you and your friends and family will join us in educating yourselves and others in the upcoming campaigns to help elect men and women who will govern our state and our nation in a way that will enable us to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.