GIFT OR SEDUCTION
by Carolyn Forte
Seduction, by definition, is hard to discern in the beginning. Seducers are always attractive in some way; that is how they get their foot in the door. They have the ability to play into the "wants and needs" of their intended victims often by displaying a wonderfully sincere and caring presentation. Only the very wary or the very wise will recognize a seducer immediately. Looking backwards however, it is much easier to see the seduction in action.
As an interesting example, let's look at the "seducers" in action in the American public schools. The public schools were created only about 150 years ago on the premise that the system was the way to "Americanize" the immigrants, to educate and uplift the poor as well as some other "social" objectives. In order for this to work, the system needed students. Realize that at this time in history nearly all children attended private schools or were home educated. This is where the "seduction" started; there had to be a way to convince the parents and administrators of the private school sector to release the children to the new public schools. How did they do this? Very simple. They catered to the "greed and need" of the Protestant church at the time. The Protestant churches were persuaded that they could advance "Protestantism" by closing their own schools and promoting the public schools. In fact, the Protestants were given leadership positions in the beginning, allowing the church fathers to "think" they had control of
the schools. They were even allowed to teach the Bible, the Protestant version of course, thus causing all those little Catholic (and indeed Jewish, Buddist, etc.) children of the new immigrants to be indoctrinated in the Protestant religion. Since the Protestants thought they were in control of the public school system, nearly all of them (notable exceptions being Quakers and Missouri Synod Lutherans) were willing to close their own parochial schools leaving the population with only one choice in education. This was not the only seductive half-truth used to induce the private schools to close, but it does illustrate the point. The net result was that the majority of private schools closed in support of the public school system. Even today we find that the majority of children (88%) are in the public system.
Notice what has transpired in the last 150 years. How much control do Christians have over our public schools? For all practical purposes, the answer is none. This is especially true since 1962 when the Supreme Court's infamous ruling against prayer (and any other mention of God) in public schools. Was this seduction? We encourage you to read the history of public schools and decide for yourself.
What does this have to do with homeschooling except to provide one of the reasons to homeschool? Let's take another historical look at the education movement. If indeed the public school movement was an example of seduction, what can we learn from it? With the introduction of federal dollars funneled through state departments of education, we have seen the promise of local control gradually erode until there is very little or none left. If you think that there is still local control, we would encourage you to study the federalization of education through programs like Goals 2000 and National Standards. Ask any school board member how much real power the board has. You may be shocked. So now that homeschooling has become almost main stream, we must look to the future and ask, what will the attitude of the powerful public school system be toward homeschoolers? Will the people in control of such a system willingly allow it to be undermined, embarrassed and eroded by homeschoolers? Not without a fight! At first, in the 1970's and 80's when homeschoolers were few and not well organized, the education establishment simply tried to squash any renegade parent who tried it. Some went to jail (at least one mother died in jail), but that only forced determined parents underground. It was under such hostile conditions that we started homeschooling. This kind of aggressive action against homeschooling families by school districts finally resulted in the creation of various homeschool and legal defense organizations which in turn resulted in victories for homeschoolers in court.
At this point, the educational establishment realized that frontal attacks would not end homeschooling. Next, they enlisted the aid of Child Protective Services in an attempt to outflank us. A truly fearsome opponent, CPS workers consider themselves above the law. Initially they had several "victories" until our legal representation started taking them to court and scoring victories on behalf of homeschoolers. Even with all this oppression, the homeschool movement continued to grow at 15 - 20% a year.
We are winning the battle. We have established our right to oversee the education of our children. This does not set well with the education establishment. There is a tremendous amount of money being denied to the system each year because of homeschooling. Just based on the fact that there are 1.5 to 2 million homeschool children in the country, the public school bureaucracies are loosing well over $7 billion annually.
In the last few years, we have seen charter schools and Public Independent Study Programs enter the education arena. They are becoming increasingly popular. Does this mean that the education establishment has come over to our side? Have we won over their hearts and minds? Or, does this mean that our opponents have decided to seduce us instead of fighting us. If you only look at the surface, if you only look at the kind teacher offering you $1,000 - $2,000 worth of goodies, it's easy to say that they have come to our side. "They've learned the error of their ways; they recognize what a good job we are doing and will support us now." You can believe that if you want, but remember those Christian schools that closed down 150 years ago. They thought they could get something (out of the government) for nothing and still keep control. We can clearly see now how deluded they were. What a tragedy that they did not think more carefully! We are now suffering the consequences of the actions of those who made the decision 150 years ago to go for the "short term" advantage.
In the same way, those who support charter schools and public Independent Study Programs now, do not see any danger or serious repercussions from their decision. Even though these ISP's and Charter Schools constantly change the rules under which one must homeschool, more and more people find these
options to be tempting. However, what will the picture be like in 20- 30 years? Will our grandchildren be able to freely choose how their children will be educated?
The examples are not exactly parallel. Homeschoolers are individuals - much harder to shut down than a few schools 150 years ago. But, the strength of homeschooling is in its independence. Homeschooling will only remain strong as long as it is independent. If too many become dependent on the government to raise their children, then first independent homeschooling will fall and finally, all the children will be forced back to the government schools.