Why Privately Homeschool
Why do our members choose to privately homeschool? This is a persistent question that arises especially when people are considering the option of utilizing a charter school versus privately homeschooling. A quick analogy will help with understanding the charter school system. At a recent CHEA (www.cheaofca.org) convention, a speaker put it this way.
Imagine if one day you went to fellowship with your church and one of the elders came up to speak. He proceeded to tell you that the church, in exchange for financial assistance, had decided to outsource the children’s ministry to the state of California. The only caveat, he said, was that we couldn’t teach the kids about Jesus during the time of fellowship. The elders felt that this was an acceptable compromise considering the amount of financial assistance that they were receiving. You can always teach your children about Jesus, before or after our fellowship time together.
While this may sound ludicrous to most Christians, this is, in essence,
“the idea of a charter school. Let’s take a look at some of the facts. The information provided below comes from two primary articles referenced at the bottom of this page. We encourage you to click the links to the articles below to read them in full.
What is a Charter School?
“A charter school is a public school and may provide instruction in any of grades K-12. A charter school is usually created or organized by a group of teachers, parents and community leaders or a community-based organization, and is usually sponsored by an existing local public school board or county board of education. Specific goals and operating procedures for the charter school are detailed in an agreement (or “charter”) between the sponsoring board and charter organizers.” (California Department of Education. “Charter Schools: Q & A.” www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cs/re/csqatoc.asp. October 1999. )
The majority of charter schools in California are classroom-based, with children going to a school site each school day. We focus on charter schools which enroll homeschoolers. These programs use a variety of titles: homeschooling; independent study; distance learning; virtual, online, cyber, or computer-based schools; co-op teaching; correspondence; work study; or home study. What these “non-classroom based” charter schools have in common is that the student completes most of his schooling without attending a classroom.
Charter Schools Cannot Offer a Christian Education
The law clearly prohibits religious instruction in all public schools, including charter schools: no “sectarian or denominational doctrine [shall] be taught, or instruction thereon be permitted, directly or indirectly” in public schools. (California Constitution, Article IX, Section 8)
Some charter school administrators claim that parents may teach their own children religious doctrine whether they are in a charter school or not. This is true only in the sense that it is true for parents of any public school student they may pray with him each morning before sending him off to school, they may teach Bible before or after school, and they may take him to church each Sunday. However, they may not teach him Christian doctrine during school if they could, every Christian parent in America who volunteers in a classroom would be teaching the Bible.
Children in charter schools are public school students. Charter schools are funded by taxpayer monies and, according to the California Constitution, all publicly funded schools must be under the “exclusive control of the officers of the public schools.” The very heart of homeschooling is the return of that control to the parents. This cannot happen within a charter school.
Charter schools are prohibited by law from purchasing religious materials, and they are prohibited from allowing religious materials to be used in their programs even if those materials are purchased by parents or others. Parents of any public school student may supplement their children’s education with Christian materials, but this must be done outside of regular school time.
In his “Preface to the Holy Bible,” Noah Webster wrote, “The scriptures were intended by God to be the guide of human reason.” Biblical teaching is not merely supplemental, rather, it is essential and foundational. Such open recognition of this primary position of Scripture cannot happen in a charter school.
Some charter school administrators have claimed that since parents are not employees of the charter school, parents can provide and use their own Christian curriculum. These administrators usually suggest that the parent not report any religious books being used, and not have their children make any references to religious doctrine, or Scripture, or Christ in any assignments being turned in. It is either the administrator or the parent that has to withhold the reporting of the religious material because, as we have seen above, it is against the law to teach the material.
What does this teach children? It teaches them to lie. (Luke 17:1-2) It teaches them a utilitarian mindset–that the ends justify the means. It teaches them to keep quiet about their belief in God and His Word and their hope of salvation in Jesus Christ when it suits their financial interests and convenience. On the other hand, using materials based on a worldview that isn’t biblical teaches children to compartmentalize their life and to be dualistic in their worldview–to believe that God’s Word does not speak to every area of life.
Threat to Private Home Schooling
Charter schools are the greatest threat to our homeschool freedoms and the heart and soul of the Christian homeschool movement.
First, compromise of freedoms and complacent dependency are inherent in receiving government funding. Charter school families have become just one more special interest group fighting for their piece of the government pie.
Private home-schoolers are not a special interest group, in the sense that we do not go to the government asking for a handout. We are rarely asking for legislation. We are most often fighting to prevent the passage of laws that would infringe on the God-given inalienable rights of families. The perception of homeschoolers in general by the public and state legislatures and Congress are being damaged by the charter school “homeschoolers” looking to preserve and expand their handouts.
Second, the vigorous recruitment of home-schoolers into the growing number of charter schools in our state is having a disastrous effect on the private Christian homeschool movement and the organizations that support it. Several private home-school groups have either gone under or have been taken over by charter school parents and leaders. Others have lost significant numbers and are having a tough time just surviving.
In June of 1997, Alaska enacted one of the best homeschool laws in the nation for private homeschooling. However, at the same time, Alaska also enacted a charter school law. In just three short years, their statewide Christian support organization lost over two-thirds of its membership and attendance at their conferences dropped drastically. Their organization is a shell of what it once was. The influence of the private home-schoolers in their Capitol has also been negatively affected since this group is now seen as a shrinking minority compared to the now larger charter school homeschool community.
Third, as the number of private home-schoolers becomes smaller than those enrolled in public school programs, we will see a new attack upon the precious freedoms so many pioneering private home-schoolers and organizations worked so hard to establish and defend. There is a growing attempt to marginalize private home-schoolers as a radical and unreasonable element of a larger “reasonable” group that understands the need for government help and supervision by certified experts.
Every Christian parent being lured to a charter school by “free” services and money must seriously consider and understand the long-term consequences of his or her decision. Not only can we affect the worldview of our children, we can have an adverse impact on those who are attempting to gain full freedom in the teaching of God’s word for their home-school.
DCHEA stands firm in its decision that all members must subscribe to a Biblical statement of faith and privately home-school their children, denying government assistance for education. We do not want the public education system to gain a foothold in the teaching of our children and hope to enjoy the freedom of Christ-centered home education for years to come. This decision is not about exclusion, as the secular world would emphasize; it is about the inclusion of the body of Christ to freely use the gifts that we have been given by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of all, without the encroachment or oversight of secular authorities. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:7)
- CHEA,“Why Charter Schools Won’t Work for Christians”
- 2001, Roy Hanson Jr., “Charter Schools: Look Before You Leap”
“Exposing A Trojan Horse” was produced by the National Alliance of Christian Home Education Leadership. A short clip is below. It gives further insight into the charter school program.