by Susan K. Stewart
CHEA Communications Adviser
On September 29, Family Protection Ministries (FPM), Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and CHEA were able to announce that Governor Jerry Brown vetoed AB 1444, Mandatory Kindergarten. It was a day of rejoicing and praising God for His favor.
This is not the first time that the power of homeschoolers influenced government officials. Over the years of the modern homeschool movement, parent educators have had to fight for the continued freedom to make educational decisions for our families.
In 1989, in response to parents being tried for teaching their own children, homeschoolers from 11 states, including California, went to Bismarck, North Dakota for the “Bismarck Tea Party,” flooding the legislators’ offices with tea bags saying “The consent of the governed for homeschoolers, too.” It was that year, after a six-year struggle, the governor signed North Dakota’s homeschool law.
In 1994, millions of parents across the nation fought against one sentence in House Resolution 6 (HR 6). HR 6 was the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This act, which provides funding for education, is generally not controversial. This particular year, Representative George Miller (D-CA) added a sentence that required teacher certification for all teachers. Washington D.C. learned that year don’t mess with homeschoolers.
Around the country state homeschool organizations mobilized, not just their members, all homeschoolers as well to take on the fight. Literally millions of phone calls and letters went to Representatives. At one point the Capitol switchboard was receiving so many calls it was shut down. No calls were able to go through. Ultimately, on February 24, 1994 Congress overwhelming supported homeschoolers and private schools by amending HR 6 to exclude them from certification requirements. (For complete details about the HR 6 efforts, view HSLDA’s article.)
Four years, six years, eight years. That’s how long parents were willing to fight for the principle and of parents to direct the education of their children without government interference or government involvement. These parents were willing to put everything on the line for the right to freely teach children at home.
The freedom to make educational decisions has not been easily won. It has been a battle. A battle the enemy, Satan, won’t give up easily, but one that we know God has ultimately already won.
The flames of resistance are being rekindled. New tactics are being used. Instead of court battles, the assault is subtle and stealth.
A campaign of misinformation is one method.
Another attack is the willingness of government schools to “help” through public independent study and charter schools. The invitation to bring government education into homes is seen by some as an acceptance of home education, when, in fact, it is the antithesis of what the early home educating families fought for.
Legislative battles are subtler. New laws are not aimed directly at home education. Instead, they creep to more government control of education: full day kindergarten (AB 2024), Universal Preschool (Proposition 82), and now an attempt at mandatory kindergarten.
As the government mandates new education programs, demands will be made for more oversight; including oversight of private home-based schools. This latest legislation is like a time warp for the veterans who fought the good fight for these freedom three decades ago. They see history is repeating itself. The government camel is putting his nose under the edge of the tent of home education.
We mustn’t become complacent. We don’t have to go back to the days of quietly homeschooling by keeping our children indoors during school hours or whispering our schooling choice in public. We do, however, have to remain vigilant. But never again must we sit on our private school affidavits feeling we are now untouchable by those who oppose homeschooling.
We must, however, be wise and keep our eyes open to unexpected threats. None of us knows what the next development may be. Whether for good or evil, God is in control.
What is the next step? Foremost is to pray. Band together again. “Back in the day” homeschoolers sought support from each other. We knew that we needed each other. Not just for classes or socialization, but also to stand against the foe.
This situation has brought an unprecedented unity of all homeschoolers in California. As Christian homeschoolers we must be further united in prayer and purpose. Join CHEA and HSLDA, become a part of a CHEA Support Network group, and support Family Protection Ministries.
Be knowledgeable. Learn the modern homeschool history. See the fight that has gone before, which has brought us to this place. By knowing this history, we can be better prepared to protect the future of homeschooling.
Above all, don’t succumb to the fear that Satan would like to implant in your heart. God is our bulwark. He will go before, no matter the outcome. Be vigilant. And, trust.
Copyright 2015 Susan K. Stewart. For reprint permission, contact Susan at [email protected]
Susan K. Stewart is a writer, speaker, and editor. She and her husband Bob began homeschooling their three children in 1981, graduating all three from homeschool. Susan has served the homeschool community through Christian Home Educators Association (CHEA) of California for more than twenty years. Susan speaks and writes about homeschooling, and is the author of Preschool: At What Cost? Visit Susan’s website www.practicalinspirations.com