Grassroots in Education: A History of the Modern Homeschooling Movement in America, Part 3, By Katy-Anne Wilson
Katy-Anne Wilson describes herself as “mommy to four public children who are or will be sent to public school (so thankful for special education programs).” She is about to graduate college with a degree in writing and sociology. This post was originally published on her blog on August 11, 2012, and is reprinted with her permission.
In this series: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
Right Wing Conservative Politics
Christian fundamentalists consider America to be a Christian nation founded by Christians and on Christian principles. The Christian fundamentalists are highly involved in political activism, and their workforce is made up mostly of stay at home wives and mothers. (Gaither 2009, p. 337). Cooper and Sereau state that parents who homeschool are more highly involved in politics than parents of children in public or private schools, and they are involved by voting, contributing money, contacting officials and attending rallies. (Cooper & Sereau 2007, p. 122). They also say that homeschool families are politically savvy and have used an intense political commitment to advocate some real change in society on the issue of homeschooling. These families are very well organized and have lobbied for their rights. (Cooper & Sereau 2007, p. 125)
Coleman (2010, unpub.) claims that the religious fundamentalist homeschoolers are also politically motivated and intend on solving the culture wars through political platforms. She further says that the Christian fundamentalist homeschooling crowd are now a very strong and powerful political force. (Coleman 2010, unpub.) The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) which is run by Mike Farris fights for the rights of fundamentalist Christian homeschoolers.
These homeschoolers also have their own college to accept homeschooled children called Patrick Henry College. And many a high school or college aged Christian fundamentalist homeschooled child finds themselves being involved in political activism for the conservative religious right. The religious right also successfully infiltrated the Republican party in the 1980’s and have been strong in their political involvement ever since. (Dowdy & McNamara 1997, p. 168).
Cimino and Lattin (1998, p. 137) claim that the religious right is heavily involved in wanting to make America into a Christian nation and therefore push their fundamentalist ideals onto everybody. Many of these fundamentalists are Christian Reconstructionists, a movement which advocates bringing back many of the Old Testament laws and living a life based strictly on the Bible. There are, however, some Christian fundamentalists who do not advocate reconstructionism but rather they fight for “traditional values” or “family values” which is where the culture wars come into the picture. (Cimino & Lattin 1998, p. 137)
The Ideologues see homeschooling as a major way to wage the culture wars and gain political clout, trying to get America to live by traditional white, Protestant, fundamentalist values. These fundamentalists are now unhappy with the public school system that was a Christan fundamentalist initiative in the first place. Many homeschool their children in order to teach them their own ideologies. If they can have lots of children and indoctrinate those children well enough into their belief system, they’ll have a new generation to carry out their plan as they will believe the same thing their parents did. If they sent their children to public school their children would be taught a different worldview and would have much less chance of growing up to be a right wing, conservative, Christian fundamentalist.
Although there are plenty of secular families who homeschool, this paper focused on the religious right, the Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals, because they make up the bulk of the homeschooling modern homeschooling movement and have certainly had the most influence. These people homeschool in order to wage a “war” on the culture, wanting to change American society into a Christian society based on Biblical values and rules, as interpreted by the religious right and not necessarily by what the Bible actually says.
It is very important for American society that they realize the magnitude of what is going on here. The Christian fundamentalists basically took over an entire movement and rallied their own crusades for homeschooling, so that they can pass these same ideologies on to their children whom they hope will repeat the pattern. Their goal is to infiltrate further into the political arena, in order to fight the culture wars. If Americans want to be sure that they won’t be executed for being homosexual or for having an affair, or live under other such laws, they had best keep a close eye on the actions of the conservative right wing Christian homeschoolers and not underestimate their influence.
End of series.
Carper, J, & Hunt, T 2007, “Chapter 9: Homeschooling redivivus,” Dissenting tradition in American education pp. 239-264 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 August 2011.
Coleman, R.E. 2010, Ideologues, pedagogues, pragmatics: a case study of the homeschool community in Delaware County, Indiana, Masters thesis, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.
Cimino, R & Lattin, D 1998, Shopping for Faith: American religion in the new millennium, John Wiley & Sons, New York.
Cooper, B & Sureau, J 2007, “The politics of homeschooling: new developments, new challenges”, Educational Policy, 21, 1, p. 110-131, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 August 2011.
Dowdy, T.E. & McNamara, P.H, 1997 Religion north American style, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Gaither, M 2009, ‘Homeschooling in the USA: past, present and future’, Theory and Research in Education, 7, 3, pp. 331-346, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 August 2011.
Goldfield, Abbott, Anderson, Argersinger, Argersinger, Barney, & Weir 2001, The American journey: a history of the United States, 2nd edition, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.
Klicka, C.J, 1995 The right choice: the incredible failure of public education and the rising hope of home schooling: an academic historical, practical and legal perspective, Noble publishing associates, Gresham, Oregon.
If Americans want to be sure that they won’t be executed for being homosexual or for having an affair…
Or not being devout enough.
If they can have lots of children and indoctrinate those children well enough into their belief system, they’ll have a new generation to carry out their plan as they will believe the same thing their parents did.
“WE CONQUER THE LANDS OF THE INFIDEL!!! OUR WOMBS SHALL BE OUR WEAPONS!!!”
— attr to an extremist Euro-Mullah
“If Americans want to be sure that they won’t be executed for being homosexual or for having an affair, or live under other such laws, they had best keep a close eye on the actions of the conservative right wing Christian homeschoolers and not underestimate their influence.”
I know the internet lives on hyperbole, but this is a bit much. If you want your opinion to mean anything, this is not the way to end your essay. It’s one thing to ascribe to a large, ill-defined group unified motives and methods. But ending as you do, you’ve moved from unreasonable to perhaps clinically paranoid. “Stop Christian homeschoolers or you’ll be executed for having an affair”? Credibility is something you must treat more carefully if you want to be taken seriously as a writer.
Christian fundamentalists did succeed in getting Uganda to pass legislation criminalizing homosexuality, called the “kill the gays bill.” It may seem hyperbolic, but the people who advocate these things are very serious.
Again, there’s a leap that seems more paranoid than casual. First, looking at the other articles linked from your article, Uganda’s law looks to be more a reaction against Western pressure than anything else; in other words, it was a political reaction, not a social or moral thing. And if you keep digging in the article you linked back to the source, it seems to go back to a visit by three individuals to Africa.
But these three individuals (1) have been discredited in the US, per the article, and (2) are adamantly opposed to the bill referenced in the article you cite. So what you have are three extremists in the US who can’t even be counted on to support this Ugandan bill. And from that, we should all fear for our lives in the US because a group loosely-affiliated people have started homeschooling? It’s just too sky-is-falling to take seriously.
I’m all for people teaching their kids in the way they think is right, whether that’s conservative or liberal, religious or atheist, big government or small government, or whatever. But I’m just not seeing why when one group does that, another group needs to engender fear that the first group wants to kill people. I’ll teach my kids how I want to; someone else can do the same with his kids. If we disagree, I’m glad I don’t live in Uganda. But I’m not going to accuse him of wanting me dead.