by Nathan Pierce, Family Protection Ministries
Taxation and government funding are not new concepts. Throughout human history, governments have levied taxes on their citizens. In biblical times, the Pharisees tried to muster up accusations against Jesus by questioning Him about paying taxes.
“They came to Him and said…. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.”
Jesus’ words clearly support the idea that we are to pay taxes to the government. But what can we rightfully expect from our government in return? And as believers, do we necessarily want to claim what may be offered to us through government programs? If there are charter/public school/government funds for education available to us, should we take them?
There are three immediate issues to consider. First, in California, both the Education Code and the State Constitution clearly prohibit the use of government funds for religious curriculum, teaching, or instruction. This presents a great difficulty for the Christian parent seeking to disciple their children in the faith and train them to apply the Bible to every aspect of their life.
Secondly, the United States government, at both the federal and state levels, oversees a vast labyrinth of funding (supported by taxation) and regulation. The government will never delegate money to a program without regulating its use. That is one basic issue for Christians wanting to use government funds to educate their children: government money always comes with government oversight.
“What’s the problem with regulation or rules?” you ask. The one making the rules is directing the goals and content of the education. Our government leaders have slowly implemented curriculum in public schools that is directly against God’s Word. Students attending a traditional brick-and-mortar public school or campus-based charter school are unquestionably educated under government supervision and government-approved curriculum. Non-classroom-based charter schools students are also part of the public-school system and are under the government’s jurisdiction.
In the same vein, Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are being touted and introduced in California to further “school choice.” If you have ever heard of “school vouchers,” ESAs follow the same concept – the money follows the student. At some point, ESAs may show up on the ballot in California. The idea of ESAs is that the government would deposit public money (tax dollars) into individual student “savings” accounts and parents would direct those funds for their child’s education as they see fit, including using it for public school, charter school, private schools, or possibly even home-based private schools (private homeschools).
However, considering that government money never comes without regulation, ESAs are again a very likely threat to parent-directed, Christian education. Historically, when the government starts to fund private education, it eventually comes to dominate it. Government funding of private schools and private homeschools opens the door wide for government regulation like teacher credentialing, curriculum and testing standards, reporting to government agencies, etc. Small private schools and large private universities alike have experienced this progression in the United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and France.
We expect government regulation over Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) if they are implemented in California. There will be “strings attached” to the initiative, where parents will have less autonomy over their children’s education than if they had just funded their children’s education on their own. ESAs are very likely to become an option that entraps, not frees, the parents to guide their children’s education as they see fit.
When you participate in any education program supported by public funds, you cede control of your child’s education to the state. You give up the ability to direct and make decisions regarding teachers, curriculum, scheduling, testing, and other freedoms we currently possess as private homeschoolers.
The state’s interests, not necessarily the parents’ or child’s, will be foremost in any education option funded by the government. To get to the heart of the matter, the public school system seeks to promote the state and to mold students into their version of good citizens of that state.
A third issue of concern is more philosophical. There are people serving in the government that firmly believe you are not able to raise your children without their help. When you voluntarily place yourself under their supervision, it reinforces that idea in their minds. When your family participates in a government-funded program, the leaders in government also see a need for more money to continue the program you are participating in. Then arises a need for more administrators for the program. This perpetuates government growth and encroachment into every area of our lives.
Another unforeseen issue that will stem from government funding of home education is the loss of numbers in the private homeschool community. Private homeschooling gives parents the largest latitude of freedom when deciding how to care for and educate their children. Hopefully there will never be a day when there are not enough private home educators left to speak up to defend our freedoms against the unceasing onslaught of government overreach!
The Bible, not state-sanctioned curriculum, is the starting point for all Christian education. You simply cannot provide a Christian education using the means and methods of the state. Noah Webster said,
“Education is useless without the Bible. The Bible was America’s basic textbook in all fields. God’s Word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.”
Your hard-earned money may be taken by the government in the form of taxes, but your children belong to the Lord. Do not needlessly submit them to a government system that requires the removal of God and His Word from even a minute of your precious discipleship time (school day) with your children.
There is much more which could be covered on this issue. However, in summary, a major Biblical principle to remember is that one should be content with the fruits of his own labor and that which is voluntarily given to him. One must avoid desiring or receiving the fruits of another man’s labor, which is taken from another on an involuntary basis. (Ex. 20:17; Luke 3:14; Rom. 13:9; Phil. 4:11-13; I Tim. 6:8-10)
When we shoulder our personal responsibilities rather than expecting the government to come to our rescue, we take a positive step toward lower taxes, smaller government, and increased freedom.
“And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.”
 California Education Code, Section 220; California State Constitution Article IX, Section 8.
 California Education Code, Section 47615.
 Lynda Friesen, “Choice in Education,” National Advocacy for Private Education, (October 1993), Page 29.
 Mary Schofield, “Charter Schools: What is allowed, What is not, and Why Christian parents should think twice before signing up,” Christian Home Educators Association of California and Family Protection Ministries, (2002). Noah Webster, “Quotations,” Websters Dictionary 1828 (American Dictionary of the English Language), accessed August 25, 2021, http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Quotes.
This article was originally published by Family Protection Ministries on September 15, 2021. Republished with permission.
So when my friends in our family homeschool Co op /play group ,all say they are apart of this charter or this program. Like heartland or parent partnership or even local Christian private an use the $2,500-$5000 pers student funds ,is that the same as being in a government or state public school we are PSA self funding all things for our house hold I do not want to apply for funds for fear of these things mentioned in overreaching in our family faith an choices to or on how we raise an educate our family would we be able to have a taxe right off ?,for the material an expense that we acquired for their educational needs ? Sorry this went all over the place .
If these families are receiving educational funds, yes, they are enrolled in public school programs. There are no tax write-offs for educational materials for privately homeschooling families in California.
This is the same position that the teachers unions and the K12 public education industry has to prevent any type of school choice. Unfortunately, those children from low income families and minorities will be hurt the most. Those children will be relegated to failing K12 public schools and their indoctrination. So, give those poor kids a chance to excel to their maximum. ESAs are a good way to get this done. You are very short-sighted in your position and this is one that fails many families, especially single parent families.
We are sympathetic to the struggles that low income and single parent families face when considering alternative education options, including private home education. However, with government funding comes government oversight and we feel strongly that private education should be kept private.
Given the current onslaught of California bills currently under consideration, it is apparent that eschewing “government funding” [which comes from the pockets of private citizens] will NOT insulate us from the ever-more-brazen assaults against our medical freedom and parental rights. Currently, the government school system has zero incentive to listen to concerns of parents or California citizens, so they feel no risk in mandating sexxx ed, medical “treatment”, racial division, medical consent at age 12 and now even “responsible” drug use. I am a homeschooling mother of 6 whose last child completed high school last spring, and I can assure you that your progeny risks plenty from emerging as a young adult into the society spawned by the monopoly of our public schools! We can all see the breath-taking acceleration of insanity and tyranny and the heavy toll paid by our young people in so many ways.
We can grasp this school choice initiative (the Educational Freedom Act) and go on offense or we can abdicate and let the dark forces that threaten us and our children have it all. Every teacher employed in the public school system is a donor to our degenerate and corrupt government. Every student whose family cannot access private or home schooling is immersed in the sludge with no escape. The Educational Freedom Act allows both students and teachers to escape this corrupt and destructive system. I hope you will reconsider your opposition to this initiative before it is too late.
For more information about CHEA’s position on the Educational Freedom Act, you can read our statement here: https://www.cheaofca.org/esa/
The Educational Freedom Act would change how state funds could flow. It would amend our state constitution so that funds could follow the child. The state would be specifially prohibited from imposing requirements on curriculum (including faith-based), credentialing, admission, or disciplinary polices. Further, schools could not be made ineligible due to faith based conduct requirements for students or faculty. Regardless of this initiative, private and homeschools will still be regulated if the legislature decides to regulate. That’s a separate battle we will all have to fight. Meanwhile, 95% of the state’s students are stuck in an ideological, failing system directed by the interests and resources of teacher unions. Students at private universities receive state grants without strings attached to curriculum. Private college eligibility for grants has inflated the price of college overall but gives students choices beyond the state university system. Until parents get more involved, kids will be failed by the California school system.
CHEA’s position about the Educational Freedom Act can be found here: https://www.cheaofca.org/esa/