It should come as no surprise that the current state-run public school system in the United States is both morally and academically bankrupt.
Educational experiments during the last 50 years have shown that top-down reforms are not effective. The frustration with our educational system has been building for years.
The Survey Says...
During the Reagan Administration a federal study tripped alarms with the dire 1983 report A Nation At Risk. It was the first in a series of major reports showing how poorly American students stack up against their foreign peers and future competitors in math, science and other subjects. The report states in part:
...The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a tide of rising mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people. If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.
According to a now famous follow-up report in 1992 by the Educational Testing Service, the United States spends a greater percentage of its gross national product on education (7.5%) than any other country except Israel, yet is outperformed in math and science by more than 10 nations, including Hungary, Taiwan and the former Soviet Union.
The survey also showed that longer school years and more money spent on educating teachers did not make a measurable difference on student achievement.
According to the 1990 Science Report Card, fewer than half of twelfth grade students could operate at a level capable of analyzing scientific procedures and data, and less than 10 percent reached the highest level, the ability to integrate scientific information.
In an even more startling report, the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and Government reported that more than 80 percent of math teachers were found to be deficient in mathematics skills. The study further found that more than two thirds of elementary school science teachers lacked adequate preparation in science subjects.
Former Secretary of Education Lauro Cavazos, while commenting on the state of public education, summed it up best: "...maybe we should declare educational bankruptcy, give the people their money and let them educate themselves and start their own schools."
Former First Lady Barbara Bush recently echoed Mr. Cavazos remarks by adding that our success as a society depends not on what happens in the White House, but inside your house.
Why Home Schooling?
With all the academic problems associated with the public school system, it's no wonder more and more families are turning to home schooling.
Since the late 1970's, when roughly 12,500 children were taught at home, the number has now reached over 1,000,000 and is growing at a 20% annual rate1. But academics are just part of the equation. There are far more important elements to consider.
Moral values are best taught by example. In a Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Report, American Values in the 80's, only 27 percent of educators found pre-marital sex objectionable, while 40 percent of the public believed it to be wrong. Fifty percent of the educators found no moral problems with pornography. Would you want your children to imitate these opinions?
In his book Religious Apartheid, author J. Whitehead addresses the issue of moral values in American culture by stating:
"We have come to a point in Western culture where the only absolute is that there are no absolutes. As such, modern people no longer have any meaningful understanding of right and wrong.
This philosophy is devastating to young people in particular; it may explain the hopelessness and high rate of suicide among youth in Western societies. Today, traditional Judeo-Christian values hang in the balance in America. They can be forgotten in a single generation if they are not taught to children and teenagers."
God's creation design is for married couples to bear children and train them to be righteous before Him. God gives us the great commandment in Deuteronomy 6:4 and then instructs us further:
"And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." (Deuteronomy 6:6,7)
The Hebrew word for Son is 'ben', and one aspect of its meaning is in the likeness of the Father.2 God has placed children in families that they might learn from their parents character and skills what will be needed in order for them to fulfill their life's purposes. The instruction of parents is vital.
God instructs young people:
"...Hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace upon thy head, and chains about thy neck." (Proverbs 1:8)
The conclusion is inescapable: parents are responsible to teach their children.
Results Speak For Themselves
The effectiveness of homeschooling has been the subject of much research and debate. Critics decry home schooling as being ineffectual for scholastic achievement. The facts speak otherwise.
On November 16, 1990, the National Home Education Research Institute released its first report of A Nationwide Study of Home Education. The achievement scores of the home educated students were quite high in all areas considered. The home educated students scored, on the average, above the 80th percentile in all eight major tested categories. The national average in public schools is the 50th percentile.
A logical argument could be made that the home education environment naturally causes higher achievement because of factors such as low student to teacher ratio, flexibility that is possible in a small private setting, and close contact between the parent and the child.
Initial conclusions revealed that the home education families surveyed involve parents with greater formal educational attainment than average. Family income was slightly higher than the average, and two-parent families seemed to be the norm. They had more children than the average United States family, and the families were predominantly Christian in viewpoint with a wide variety of religious preferences indicated.3
On almost every standardized test, home schooled children seem to excel. Statistical data continues to conclude that home schooling not only works, but it works effectively. And it works without the myriad of state controls and accreditation standards imposed on public schools.
But these are only academic measures. The Spiritual value of home schooling is difficult to measure on a standardized test. Spiritual integrity and close family relationships are the real prizes of home schooling.
Home School Graduates
Let's look at the roster of home school graduates:
They include seventeen of the delegates to the original Constitutional Convention. Other notables include Patrick Henry, John Q. Adams, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, George Patton, Douglas MacArthur, Franklin Roosevelt, "Stonewall" Jackson, Booker T. Washington, Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, C.S. Lewis, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Claude Monet, William Penn, Daniel Webster, John Wesley, Dwight Moody, Alexander Graham Bell, and Charles Dickens. . . just to name a few!
How Do I Begin?
If you want to consider homeschooling, you could begin with a trip to your local library. There are many excellent books on the subject (see the resource list at the end of this article). Contact the Home School Legal Defense Association for the name of your state's home school organization. Through them you can obtain the name of a local support group. You don't have to re-invent the wheel or do it alone. Drop by your local Christian bookstore in your quest for materials. Attorney and Author Christopher Klicka has defined nine steps for those interested in starting a home schooling program for their children:
- Begin Establishing Consistent Discipline in Your Home.
- Join a Home School Support Group.
- Read a Few Good Books.
- Join the Home School Legal Defense Association.
- Select Your Approach To Teaching.
- Invest In Your Teaching Tools.
- Invest In Your Household Management Tools.
- Equip Your Home For Instruction And Study.
- Build the Home School Community in Your Area.
Parents who home school are discovering the blessed opportunity to direct more closely the spiritual growth of their children. The important thing for parents to know is that true education should begin with, be centered around, and end with their child's love for God and the development of Christian character. This is both the origin and apex of all knowledge. Home educators have the rewarding advantage of giving it the priority it is due.4
- Home School Legal Defense Assoc., Marching to the Beat of Their Own Drums, 1992.
- Klicka, Christopher, The Right Choice, Home Schooling, Noble Publishing, 1993.
- The Home School Report, A Nationwide Study of Home Education, December 1990.
- Time, Home Sweet School, Octo ber 31, 1994.
- Whitehead, John W., Religious Apartheid, Moody Press, 1994.
- Wall Street Journal, Volatile Mix, May 23, 1995.
Home School Resources:
- The Home School Legal Defense Association (see address and phone number under footnote 1).
- The Big Book of Home Learning (4 volume set), Mary Pride, Crossway Books, 1990.
- The How and Why of Home Schooling, Ray E. Ballmann, Crossway Books, 1987.
- The Teaching Home, A Christian Magazine for Home Educators, published bimonthly for $15/yr. 12311 NE Brazee, Portland, OR, 97230 (503) 253- 9033.
- The Christian Home School, Greg Harris, Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers, Inc., 1988.
- Home Schooling and the Law, Michael P. Farris, HSLDA, 1990.
- For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School, Susan Schaeffer Macauley, Crossway Books, 1984.
Major Home School Publishers
- A Beka Correspondence School, PO Box 18000, Pensacola, FL, 32523-9160. (1-800-874-BEKA) Call for a free brochure.
- Alpha Omega Publications, PO Box 3153, Tempe, AZ, 85281. (1-800-821-4443 Dept. OMP) Call for a free catalog.
- Bob Jones University Press, Greenville, SC, 29614. (1-800- 845-5731) Call for a free catalog.
- Christian Light Publications, 1066 Chicago Ave., PO Box 1126, Harrisburg, VA, 22801- 1126. (703-434-0750) Call for a free catalog.
- Christian Liberty Press, 502 West Euclid Ave., Arlington Heights, IL, 60004. (708-259- 8736) Call for a free catalog.
Home School Suppliers
- Shekinah Curriculum Cellar, 967 Junipero Drive, Costa Mesa, CA, 92626. (714-751-7767) Catalog $1.
- Timberdoodle, E. 1610 Spencer Lake Road, Shelton, WA, 98584. (206-426-0672) Free catalog.
Home School Bookclubs
- Homeschooling Bookclub, 1000 East Huron, Milford, MI, 48381- 2422.
- CBD Christian Book Distributors, PO Box 3687, Peabody, MA, 01961-3687.
- Conservative Book Club, 15 Oakland Ave., Harrison, NY, 10528.
- Great Christian Books, 1319 Newport Gap Pike, PO Box 3499, Wilmington, DE, 19804- 2895.