It’s Not My Fault, And It Never Was: Olive’s Story

CC image courtesy of Shade Ardent, sagebrushMoon Studios.

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Olive” is a pseudonym.

I’ve always been autistic.  

Since I was a baby.  Vaccinations didn’t do me in and it wasn’t because my breastfeeding mother or I ate too much milk or gluten.  From the time I was born, I struggled to cope with things like bright lights, loud sounds, and the feeling of having a body.

I learned early that my sensitivities wouldn’t be tolerated, though, and that in order to get by I needed to let people kiss, hug, and touch me even though it often hurt.  Being hungry and tired gave me meltdowns, but my brain couldn’t feel that I was hungry, or tired and so I didn’t know why it was happening or how to stop it and my screaming was often met with threats.

Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.

The threats terrified me, so I taught myself to stop crying and to calm down, which my mother took as proof that I was just being stubborn and strong-willed.  If something were really wrong, then I wouldn’t have been able to stop crying on a whim.

I struggled through elementary, but because my school was small and private (and aggressively evangelical), I stayed with the same 10-15 kids from K-6th grades, so there was stability in that and I always knew I’d have friends at school.  I had trouble relating to other kids and couldn’t easily make friends outside my built-in friend group, but I didn’t have a lot of reason to anyway.  There were plenty of slumber parties and trips to the rollerskating rink as it was.

Then I pretty much failed 6th grade.  It wasn’t out of nowhere.  I had started having issues in fourth grade with the volume of homework, and my mother wasn’t good at offering support, subscribing wholeheartedly to the idea that kids should learn to be responsible by being left fully responsible for as much as possible.  I was blamed for my failures and when my mom took an afternoon off work to come visit my least favorite class with me, it was all over. 

I would be homeschooled, she decided.

Some kids just aren’t cut out for school.

A refrain that would be repeated throughout my junior high and high school years.  It would cripple me.  Completely disempower me.  Because I just wasn’t cut out to deserve the things other kids did, or to be allowed to have peers and friends.

So much happened from 7th grade to 12th, but it feels like a dark hole to me.  It was an ugly time.  When homeschooling didn’t work because I had a single mother and she worked as a nurse for 40 hours a week, she tried to put me in public school in 9th grade.  When that didn’t work, she got me a floppy red set of ACE workbooks and told me that if I wanted to learn, then I would finish them.  When that didn’t work, she got me Saxon math books and started calling what she was doing “unschooling”, which meant that math was the only subject that really mattered anyway, because I could learn all the rest just from being in the world.

When I made friends online to replace the ones I’d lost in school, she took them away too because I called one of them my boyfriend and we weren’t allowed to have romantic relationships until we were 18.

When I couldn’t provide myself with the structure I needed to complete the ACE curriculum, she got me a job babysitting for 8 hours a day.  I bathed, fed, and read to 1, then 2, and eventually 4 little siblings who lived in a small, sticky apartment.

If you aren’t going to complete your school work, then you should at least learn a work ethic.

So, I did.

The anxiety never left.  The social anxiety was worst and I wasn’t able to make friends or even talk openly with people I already knew, but I also had anxiety about my future and how I would survive once I turned 18.  I wasn’t being given anything that my peers were, and it was all my fault because I’d failed so miserably.  There was no school counselor to help me through college applications.  There was no one there to tell my mother that what she was doing was hurting me.  I thought she was only trying to help.

And since there was no one else to blame, I fully blamed myself.

If only I could have kept it together in 6th grade.

If only I could have stayed at public school in 9th grade.

If only I could have finished the ACE curriculum, or the Saxon math.

I am a failure.

I never studied my schoolwork.  It caused too much anxiety.  I never finished the ACE curriculum or the math books.  I snuck back on the computer to my friends, and studied them instead.  They had expansive vocabularies gleaned from philosophy books and collections of novels I’d never heard of because of my conservative upbringing.  They gave me book lists ranging from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to Ishmael, The Perks of Being a Wallflower to John Grisham novels.  I studied our language, the language of kids online in 1999.  The way we communicated via acronyms and words couched in asterisks.

At 17, I passed the GED with mostly flying colors except for math, which I almost failed but was too afraid to take again.  My mother was calling my “education” unschooling by then.  I wasn’t a neglected child, I was an “autodidact” and this had been my choice.  After all, I could have finished that ACE curriculum like she’d wanted me to.

And I believed her.

Which was the biggest lie homeschooling/unschooling ever told me.

I had no outside influences to tell me anything different.  That I could strive for something greater than an almost-failed GED.  That maybe I could be cut out for school if I had the right support.  That maybe I could have a future.

The only people speaking into my education were my mother and other homeschooling/unschooling family members.  I was young, depressed and broken from years of not having a peer group or any outside support.  Listening to them finally tell me that I was a success felt good, and I clung to it.

No matter that I couldn’t carry on conversations, that I felt awkward and out of place no matter where I went, or that I had no friends in real life.  It didn’t matter that I couldn’t count back change with any accuracy or that I wasn’t ever taught to say no to anyone, resulting in many bad relationships and a traumatizing sexual assault.

If I had taught myself like I was supposed to, I wouldn’t be in this position.

It was like a poison that ate me alive.

I received no explanation of how to choose a college and was simply driven to the local community college one day by my mother and enrolled.  Whether I wanted to go or not was irrelevant.  What I wanted was irrelevant, because my mother wanted me to look like I was succeeding.

Through sheer force of will I was able to keep up and get good grades while working full time and going to school full time.

For one semester.

But after that, everything fell apart again and it was like deja vu.  It cemented for me over and over that what my mother said was true, I just wasn’t cut out for school.

By the time I finally learned that I was autistic, I had given up on school.  I was married, living overseas.  More things made sense, but I still believed that I was broken, unfit for education.  I’ve been a stay-at-home wife for most of our marriage, although I did try school once and had an awful breakdown halfway through the second semester.

My mother seems to view my stay-at-home status as a success though, because women are meant to be at home.

And anyway…

What else would you have had me do with an autistic child who was failing in school?

She demands to know and I feel at a loss.  I don’t know what could have been done in the 90’s for a girl who nobody knew had autism, but I know the answer isn’t: Take them out of school and saddle them with the responsibility of orchestrating their entire education alone.

And I know I wouldn’t do this to any kid I know.  Autistic or not.

Today, I’m still a stay-at-home wife.  We rent a tiny house with a big back yard where I grow tomatoes and strawberries and our dog chases cats and stray chickens.  It took me so long to realize that the lies I’d been told about my education weren’t true, that I’m in my 30’s now and still have no college degree.  In picking apart everything that went wrong, I’ve begun to be estranged from my family.  I gave up my faith, too, and am now an atheist instead of an evangelical Christian.

The transitions have come all at once, like hitting a wall and removing brick after brick just to get to the other side.  I still have meltdowns when I get too hungry, or I’m surprised, or when the weight of all the things feels too much, but I’m learning to be gentler with myself now.  The more bricks I pull away from the wall, the more clearly I can see and it turns out that kindness helps a lot more with supporting my autism than tough love ever did.  I still struggle to make friends and don’t really have any, but hope that as I get healthier through therapy, I may be able to develop more social skills.  And I still don’t know if I’m “cut out” for school, although I hope someday I will be.

I think the one thing I do know now is that autism doesn’t mean I have to hide.  If I am struggling with something, I can ask for help doing that thing.  I don’t need to have the thing taken away from me.  I can get support in being who I am and doing the things I want to do, all at the same time.

And it’s not my fault that I didn’t get the education I deserved. 

It never was.

New Age Neglect: Rabbit’s Story

CC image courtesy of Flickr, andrew and hobbes.

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Rabbit” is a pseudonym.

I don’t… I don’t know if I’m ready to really talk about all of what happened to me. But I feel like maybe I should say something about my experience with homeschool because it had zero to do with Christianity and I feel alone, and maybe the reason I can’t find any other secular neglect homeschooling stories is because I need to write one. So this is, in brief, my story. Maybe I will write more someday, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be okay talking about it in a language anyone but me and my husband understand.

Now, in 2016, I have discovered the following things about myself, things that I feel should be known, in order to give context to this account: I am an intersex woman with PCOS. I have EDS, a collagen mutation that causes chronic pain. I have been homeless and because of those experiences became a communist. I am a bisexual pagan witch. I am severely disordered, impacted by schizophrenia, autism, and two personality disorders (borderline and dependent) as well as extensive PTSD and anorexia, both of these latter from my childhood abuse and neglect, and the further abuse and neglect they set me up to face.

My mother neglected and emotionally abused me, as did literally every other member of my extended and immediate family, including my younger sister, who was also homeschooled for a time.

When I graduated from a very good and positive Montessori school at the age of eleven (5th grade) my mother put me in yet another private school for 6th grade and then, in the summer after, quit her job and pulled me and my sister out of school. She got a license to homeschool us (or… whatever that is, the registration that keeps the truancy officers showing up).

She bought all the sparkly accessories for homeschooling, made a few desultory efforts, and then got bored (she always got bored) and just started… ignoring our education.

She said, she always told people, that ‘oh, she’s so smart, she reads all the time. I can just leave her alone and she learns by herself!’

When I said I wanted to go to high school, she said ‘ok but you have to be in charge of that’ and then did absolutely nothing, forcing me to ask my friend, another 13yo girl, about how to enroll in her school. We were thirteen!! I had to go through this other friend of mine, on the phone, not even given the internet or anything, and print out the applications on my grandmother’s computer during Christmas.

She continued her sterling record of doing absolutely nothing, not even feeding me adequately or taking me to see a competent doctor when I was very clearly having severe medical problems (other than my orthodontia, because heaven forbid her child have crooked teeth), through the one and a half years I managed to limp along with zero parental help or support in a public (well, charter/magnet) school–the first time I’d ever been to public school.

And then, when I failed out of that school, she acted like I didn’t exist.

Again, she reasoned that she didn’t have to pay attention to me, because I could read and ‘read all the time’. She seemed to dutifully ignore the fact that what I was reading was fiction.

Anyway, later on, when I started talking about homeschooling with other people, I got very confused when they assumed I was Christian, and fundamentalist at that. I simply had never been around that kind of homeschooler–I’d only briefly been around any other homeschoolers, but the ones I’d met were all New Age. Scientologists, Pagans, etc. And all abusive in the same way, similar way to what I’ve read about from Christian survivors, but with that New Age ‘rebel’ twist that makes it hard to… well, rebel against it visibly (how are you supposed to rebel against an atheist or pagan? Go Christian??).

I still feel alone. Whenever I hear about survivors, or meet them (I live with two others–my husband and our roommate), they’re from horrific Christian cults. I feel like the only one that was from a secular or New Age philosophy or cult.

I guess this isn’t a full story so much as a call to others.

Where are my fellow secular survivors, where are they? Please speak up, please let me know I’m not alone. I’m here. You’re not alone.

I found out all of my conditions and illnesses in my adult life–most of them in the past year–and am learning more about how to live with them. My husband and I have been together for 9 years this April. I have been in recovery from anorexia for nine years. I am no longer homeless. I am able to buy items that ease the pain and lack of mobility from my EDS. I have some support cats. I am at a point where I can laugh derisively at my mother and my relatives and their abuse and neglect of me. I am recovering. There is hope.

You–and me–we’re not alone.

I love you. You can do it. We can do it together.

Intellectual Traditions: Molly Dodd’s Story

Molly Dodd blogs at Sticky Green Leaves.

After some eleven years of homeschooling, overlapping with three years of local community college Gen Eds and art classes, my parents drove me and a few suitcases up to a medium sized public university, where they had met, married, been enchanted by ideas, and baptized as Christians. In the car, I read them excerpts from For the Life of the World, a book on sacramental theology by Fr. Alexander Schmemann, a Russian Orthodox priest. We talked about the way he insists that Christianity is not a religion, comparing it to the Evangelical slogan we had grown tired of, “it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” We appreciated the precision with which he laid out what he meant by that — what both “religion” and “the Church” meant to him, and in what way he believed them to be different, along with his obvious love for the sacramentality of Creation.

In addition to academic and life skills, I learned from my parents to be conscious of the intellectual and theological traditions we inhabit; the philosophical lenses though with we encounter the world. Their beloved philosophy professor, Dr. Wood, had studied under O K Bouwsma, who studied under Ludwig Wittgenstein, who was influenced by Kierkegaard, who was known to exclaim things like “shout it from the rooftops: truth is subjectivity!” and leave it to the reader to figure out the extent of his irony. Along with that, I inherited a tradition of beautiful theological fairy-tale tellers, myth makers, and mythopoetic enthusiasts (Inklings, George MacDonald, G K Chesterton, Antione de St. Exupery), and great, dense, thoughtful stories (The Brothers Karamazov, Les Miserables, Greek epics). By the time I went to college we had also started reading Eastern Orthodox writers, including some beautiful Byzantine, Arab, and North African theologians. We were a little snobby about self-consciously Christian books, from heartwarming prairie romances, to earnest pleas for courtship, to stifling Bible study booklets. We had read enough truly good books to recognize the mediocre or saccharine ones.

My parents were evangelical when I was growing up, because Evangelicals believed that the Bible was true, without equivocating, and so did they. Still, we never quite fit in. We were introverts in an extroverted church, engaging with a different intellectual tradition than most of the church. They were also passionate about education in general, not only homeschooling, and have both taught in public schools since I graduated.

In a lot of ways, my parents did homeschooling right, at least for me.

When I transferred to the university as a junior, I decided to major in Art Education because I had a lot of art credits already, but wanted an obvious job to do when I graduated. I had a mix of romantic excitement about books, ideas, and intellectual engagement, and cynicism about the College of Education. Despite some engaging classes in art history, wood fire ceramics, and argument analysis, cynicism largely won out within the institutional coursework. Education was a poor fit for my temperament, strengths, and life experience, which emphasized philosophical pondering over real world management concerns. Also, most of my courses assumed a good grasp on what public school classrooms are actually like, based on experience as a student, which I didn’t have. I spent a lot of time wandering around campus and pacing my dorm hall muttering to myself about “cognitive dissonance.” Transitioning from homeschool to college was much easier than from college to teaching in a public school.

One thing I do regret about my college experience is that it nearly extinguished my love for arts and crafts, which had been encouraged through near daily 4-H meetings. I’m good with my hands, at devising beautiful and occasionally useful objects, and also with my mind, at picking apart ideas and tracing them back to assumptions and reasoning. But postmodern, post-industrial art criticism is a precarious business, destroying as much as it illumines. I would regularly end up, in the course of art apologetics (the branch of art education aimed at policy makers, school principles, and the students who would prefer not to be there), concluding that visual arts can be true, good, and beautiful; they can be good for people’s creativity, observation skills, and appreciation of the world; they may come in handy for various reasons; but it’s more or less arbitrary what exactly students learn, or how exactly they learn it. And I hate enforcing arbitrary things on unwilling students. So eventually my own work began to feel arbitrary as well, and I largely gave up on it.

A few years later I got a Masters in Liberal Arts at a lovely little Great Books college with a long and venerable history (for America), because even though my degree had opened interesting, practical doors to me in the real world, I still felt I had missed out on my romantic ideal of what college should be. I got to read important books from the Western canon all day while sitting on balconies or in parks and watching the sky, then sit around a table and talk about them. It was delightful.

I got pretty solid grades, but aside from a few electives, most of my positive intellectual, spiritual, and social engagement came about through involvement as a catechumen at the local Greek Orthodox mission. There were theological books to be read, Byzantine liturgical chants to be learned, a complex liturgical tradition of feasts and fasts to practice, and a warm, welcoming little community made up mostly of first or second generation Greeks and students. My parents were supportive and interested in what I was learning. In my second year of college, they drove up for my baptism into the Orthodox church, and to bring my home for Christmas break, which included a week stay at a Serbian monastery.

Every now and again my Protestant high school, and later college, youth groups had talked about all the temptation I was expected to face in college, which never materialized, but it was a very minor part of my overall experience. The same people suspected icons of being idolatrous, which I was also unconcerned about. They invited me to a crafts class, college dinners, and a ball (where my neckline was deemed too low), and were pretty accepting of any perceived theological oddities.

It’s hard, and perhaps not even desirable, to trace back everything I experienced in college to specific causes, be they homeschooling, religion, temperament, or anything else. Was I somewhat awkward and naive? Yes. I still am, to an extent. Would I have been less awkward and naive if I had gone to a regular school? It’s hard to tell. Maybe. Has my awkwardness and naivety hurt me? Also hard to tell. Not in ways that are very important to me, I think. Maybe if I had gone to a good school I would have learned math and science better. Maybe then I could have taken a more technical major.Maybe I could be working in a neuroscience lab! In some alternate reality I’m well on my way to becoming an important neuroscientist. Or maybe not. Probably not.

Technically, Nicole Naugler Is Not a Homeschool Mom

Photo from Blessed Little Homestead’s Facebook page.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on May 9, 2015.

Over the last few days, my social media pages have blow up with comments and articles about Joe and Nicole Naugler, an “off-grid” couple whose ten children were removed by CPS following the discovery that the family was living in tents and had inadequate heat, water, and sewage—a discovery that followed a standoff between Joe and one of the neighbors, in which Joe trespassed on a neighbor’s property in order to steal water, and then, when confronted, threatened to shoot said neighbor.

News articles about the removal tend to have titles like this:

Kentucky Police Seize Ten Children of Homeschooling Off-Grid Family, Arrest Pregnant Mother

BREAKING: Police Seize 10 Children From Homeschool Family Because They’re Off-Grid

Pregnant Homeschool Mom Assaulted by Sheriff as CPS Kidnaps Her Kids in Kentucky

Some homeschooling parents are posting article on the situation to HSLDA’s facebook page to try to get them involved, and I’ve seen scads of homeschooling parents defending the Nauglers as a good, honest, hard-working homeschooling family that just happens to have made different lifestyle choices from other families. If you want an honest look at the situation and what all is involved, see Kathryn Elizabeth’s post, Here Are 7 Surprising Things You Need to Know about Joe and Nicole Naugler. But there’s something slightly tangential that I want to touch on here.

Technically, Joe and Nicole Naugler are not homeschooling.

Yes, you read that right.

Kentucky does not require homeschooling parents to submit academic assessments of their children’s progress or keep portfolios of children’s educational materials, but the state does require homeschooling parents to file paperwork with the local school board, and the Nauglers have not done so.

Technically, the Naugler children are not being homeschooled—they’re truant.

Please don’t think I’m here to nitpick or to suggest that education cannot take place at home if the proper paperwork is not filed. I’m not. Because the Naugler’s self-identify as homeschoolers, I’m inclined to think of them as homescholers even though they’re not considered homeschoolers before the law. This blog post is absolutely not to say that we should reject the family’s identification as homeschoolers (though we absolutely should support them filing the paperwork to homeschool legally).

Why, then, am I bringing this up? Simply put, because it seems like every time a homeschooled child is horrifically abused or killed by his or her parents (such as the cases listed here), anti-oversight homeschooling parents disavow the family as not actually homeschooling. We saw this most recently after the deaths of Stoni Blair and Stephen Berry, who were in fact legally homeschooled regardless of what anti-oversight homeschooling parents claimed. There are other cases of horrific abuse where the parents claimed they are homeschooling but never filed the proper paperwork.  In these cases, homeschooling parents are quick to distance themselves and denounce the family as not actually homeschooling. I would understand this if it was consistent, but as the response to the Naugler family makes clear, it’s not.

Homeschooling parents have not (that I’ve seen) questioned Nicole Naugler’s self-identification as a homeschooling mother even though Nicole never filed the required paperwork and her children were therefore legally truant. But it goes further than this. I’ve been told that the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) accepts families as members even when they’re not following their state’s legal requirements for homeschooling. In other words, HSLDA accepts as members families that are not considered homeschoolers before the law, and are instead legally truant. But then, when horrific abuse comes to light in a family that claimed to be homeschooling but didn’t file the required paperwork, they’re suddenly not actually homeschoolers.

How is it not obvious how inconsistent this is? You either need to not consider any families that are legally truant as homeschoolers, regardless of whether they claim to be homeschooling—and that includes Nicole Naugler—or you need to count all families that are legally truant as homeschoolers if they claim to be so—even if they are revealed to have brutalized or murdered their children.

Here is how Homeschooling’s Invisible Children, run by the alumni-founded Coalition for Responsible Home Education, determines which cases to include in its database:

What is your criteria for including a child in the HIC database?

We include all school aged children (ages 5 to 17) who were the victims of severe or fatal abuse or neglect who were legally homeschooled or whose parents, guardians, or captors claimed to be homeschooling them at the time an incident occurred.

While not everyone may agree with their method of characterizing which children are and are not homeschooled, they do at least have a consistent standard. I’d like to see homeschooling parents who oppose oversight demonstrate the same consistency.

Joe Naugler’s Oldest Son Alleges Physical, Sexual Abuse; Children Not Returned

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Joe and Nicole Naugler, the off-grid homeschooling family in Kentucky whose 10 children were taken away last week due to allegations of unsafe living conditions and truancy, attended a custody hearing today before a Breckinridge County judge. Kentucky Child Protective Services had placed the 10 children in foster care after the local authorities seized them. The seizure happened after local sheriff Todd Pate showed up at the Nauglers’ homesteading property to serve Joe with a summons for allegedly threatening his neighbor with a firearm. According to an emergency custody affidavit from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the family lives on property with only one makeshift shed and two makeshift tents.

As of 5:45 pm Pacific, the Nauglers have remained silent on their Facebook page as to the results of the hearing. However, local news agencies and a family representative report that the Naugler children will not be returned to their parents this week.

The most dramatic turn of events is that 19-year-old Alex Brow, Joe Naugler’s oldest son who lives out of state, showed up at the courtroom with Sheriff Pate and made a public statement. When Brow was 4 years old, he too was removed from his father’s care. Brow said he fears for the well-being of siblings because he personally experienced significant abuse from his father. According to WLKY, Brow said, “I am very worried about them and I hope that everything that can be done, that was done here, can help them move on and have a better life.” Brow alleged not only physical abuse, but also sexual abuse: “I got all the beatings. I got most of the mental abuse. There was a lot of sexual abuse towards me. We had a very dysfunctional relationship.”

HSLDA, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, is allegedly assisting the Naugler family. HSLDA attorney TJ Schmidt spoke in defense of the family for a WorldNetDaily article and Michael Farris, Jr., HSLDA’s social media director and son of HSLDA founder Michael Farris, also expressed support.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 12, Joe and Nicole Naugler will return to court to face criminal charges.

Additional reading:

UPDATE, 05/11/2015, 6:12 pm Pacific: Joe Naugler issued a statement via their Facebook page claiming that CHFS “have confirmed, and confirmed again today that our children are happy, healthy and well cared for and that our property is sufficient for their needs.” Joe also said he was “heartbroken” over his oldest son’s testimony. An image of the statement is saved here or you can read the full text below:

We have allowed CHFS to inspect our property and interview our children multiple times. After every visit they have confirmed, and confirmed again today that our children are happy, healthy and well cared for and that our property is sufficient for their needs. Despite that, the judge decided as a result of the deliberations in today’s hearing that our children will remain in CHFS care while they continue their investigation. Alex, my 19-year-old estranged son, testified in today’s hearing. We are both heartbroken with the way Alex’s upbringing away from us and his strained relationship with his mother have affected him. Although we are sad our children will not be returned to us today, we have nothing to hide. We have cooperated with all requests made to us by CHFS and will continue to do so. We are confident that throughout this process Nicole and I will be shown to be the good parents that we are and that our family will be reunited. We thank everyone for all you have done for us and ask for continued prayers for our children. We want all our children to know that we love them and we are constantly with them in our hearts.

UPDATE, 05/12/2015, 1:35 pm Pacific: Joe and Nicole Naugler appeared in court again today (Tuesday) to face criminal charges. They each pleaded not guilty. Additionally, HSLDA today said in a WorldNetDaily article that they are no longer assisting the Naugler family.

A Former Off-Grid, Homeschooled Child’s Thoughts on the Naugler Family

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Paul Jerry.

The following post is written by Gary. The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Gary” is a pseudonym. Also by Gary on HA: “The Deep Drone of Unseen Cicadas” and “Hurts Me More Than You: Gary’s Story”.

To begin with I would like to state several things.

1. I do not know the Naugler family. I have never met them. All of the following observations are based solely from the information this family posted, publicly, on their blog and public Facebook page.

2. Much of the “information” being spread about the internet in regards to this family is clearly, factually incorrect. This can be seen through simple observation of posts on the family’s public Facebook page and blog.

Most of the information people are referencing is based only from the first few photos and/or posts on the family’s blog and Facebook page. For instance, the cover photo used in much of media coverage is clearly (based off the age of the youngest child featured) taken as much as two years ago. Another instance would be the “cabin”. When the family first moved to the property they did, indeed, have a cabin of sorts. In reality it was a small prefab home bought on credit. But this cabin was later returned. Where it stood is now a concrete slab, bare and seen in photos as a resting place for a heard of goats.

Since then the family has lived in a series of small open air shacks and tents — none of which even have 4 walls, windows, a solid floor, or a working door. This as well is clearly visible from photos publicly posted.

3. The dates of the photos posted on the family’s pages do not necessarily correlate to the date the photos were actually taken. Once again, this can be established by noting certain structures (or lack there of) on the land, the ages of the youngest children, and the time of year the photos were taken. Thus, no reliable timeline of any kind as to the health and welfare of the children, at the time they were taken, can be established by the online information. The most recent group photo I could find (once again based from the ages of the children) might have been taken as long ago as last fall.

4. The situation at the homestead, based off the photos and posts available, seems to be getting worse. There are several reasons for this, and they have to do with the effects of animals (goats, chickens, dogs, etc.) and human habitation on a spot of land. In the beginning the pond appears to be a real pond (turtles and fish are pictured), by the (apparently) latest photos, the pond has turned into a filthy mud pit devoid of most life. This is the natural consequence of animal dung running off the surrounding landscape with the rain and melting snow, the traffic of people, animals, etc.

This same trend can be seen in the yards and areas surrounding the shack. At first the dirt is held down by plant roots, but as the small trees were killed by the goats or chopped down to form fences, the dirt turned to mud. This mud gets mixed with the animal dung (goat, chicken and dog) and gets tracked by the bare feet of the children over every surface of the homestead. This state of affairs is clearly visible in the photos.

With this comes water from rain running straight off into the pond, carrying with it animal dung and any and all other forms of filth, from oil and gasoline from the generator, to cooking and food waste. This means that any photos taken at the beginning of this homestead experience simply can not be relied on to show the true living conditions of the current day.

We do see some photos of a shallow ditch covered by a few muddy boards, that was dug in an attempt to keep this filthy rain run off from flooding the shack.

5. These conditions will continue to get worse unless there are major and lasting changes to every aspect of the family’s food preparation area, sleeping area etc. The mud and run-off water will get worse as the hillside continues to break apart. The pond will become even worse of a health hazard as it fills with more animal dung and garbage. The structures, such as they are, will begin to mold and rot from the ground up. (This is, in fact, based off photos. It is already taking place).

6. I am not going to talk here about the family’s religious beliefs, their choice to un-school or homeschool their children, their practice of not providing their children with immunizations, Social Security numbers, or birth certificates.

All those issues are, in my opinion, secondary to the very real and pressing issues of the health and physical safety of these ten children.

Despite all the media coverage to the contrary, that does seem, based off all information available, to be the actual and factual reason the children were taken from their parents.

So without further ado, here is a bit of what is going on.


My family is sick.. We never get sick, its been nearly 3 years since we have been sick…But I think the children ate some bad food. ~lesson learned, ask mom before you eat something.. 7 of 10 children down. Olivia, being the nurturing one that she is, is taking care of everyone with me. She is bringing water to them, making sure they are all cared for..She has been on top of it not missing a step even when I stopped to feed the baby. Quinten made up everyone’s spot.. .. ,,,,at least they like to sleep outside. ( true campers!) But no one is up for roasted marshmallows

-Direct quote from the “Blessed Little Homestead” Facebook page, posted on July 24th 2014

In the photo (which got over 20 likes) we see multiple children, dressed in dirty shorts, sprawled on mounds of blankets in the dirt around an open air fire pit.

They are obviously sick:

Food poisoning. Or was it? They, “the children” had eaten some unidentified “food” with out asking their mother if it was safe to eat.

Was it some of the wild mushrooms featured in many photos on the “Blessed Little Homestead” (BLH) Facebook page?

Was it rotting left over food sitting in any number of the unwashed and grime incrusted Tupperware and plastic containers lying scattered around the open air “kitchen” (really a stack of bricks filled with open flame and topped with rusty and filth incrusted wire racks)?

Was it Salmonella?

Let us see if this description matches some of the living environments seen on the BLH Facebook page.

Food: Contaminated eggs, poultry, meat, unpasteurized milk or juice, cheese, contaminated raw fruits and vegetables (alfalfa sprouts, melons), spices, and nuts

Animals and their environment: Particularly reptiles (snakes, turtles, lizards), amphibians (frogs), birds (baby chicks) and pet food and treats.

There are picture after picture after picture of small children, covered in grime, holding and handling:

  • Snakes.
  • Toads.
  • Baby Chicks.
  • Turtles.
  • The list goes on and on.

There is photo after photo of a “homestead” coated inches deep in mud, and with up to eight goats roughly a dozen chickens, two cats and seven dogs running loose around and in the shacks that serve as “home” for this family, one can know, with absolute mathematical certainty,  that this “mud” that coats everything form the children to the floors and walls in a persistent layer of grime, is at least in a significant part, animal dung.

So, was it Salmonella?

Was it E-Coli?

Was it poison mushrooms cooked up by an unknowing child in a grimy pot over an open fire? (The kids, after all, are shown doing the “cooking”, and the mother brags in several posts about how “the kids do almost all the cooking for the family.”

We don’t know. The mother doesn’t know either. And that’s a big problem when it comes to the health and safety of the 10 children living in filth and squalor in a 380 ft. three sided shack.


But what makes you an expert you may ask?


I grew up in a similar environment.

My family bought 12 acres of land, 50 miles from the nearest town, in the North West back in 1982. We spent that first summer living in an army tent. During that first summer my father and mother and older brother built a 20 by 15 foot log cabin. That’s 300 square feet.

By snow fall we had a insulated, steel roofed, 300 square foot log home, it had a real cinderblock foundation, it had 3 double pained insulated windows, and it had a barrel stove.

We did not have electric, we did not have a well, we did not have indoor plumbing. Internet and cell phones did not exist in 1982. The nearest phone was at a neighbors home over three miles away. Then over the next 3 summers my father and mother built a 8 room, two story, glass windowed and hard wood floored, log home. It has a stone fireplace, a full basement, and a root cellar and a pantry.

They also built: an animal shed, a shop, a tool shed, and a woodshed.

During those years we became a working “homestead”, including 4 goats, two dozen chickens, geese, a small horse, a dog, 35 rabbits and two cats. We had a large garden as well. During none of this did we ever have: a well, a phone, air conditioning or refrigeration. We lit our home first with kerosene lamps and candles and then later with propane lanterns. We cooked our meals first on a wood stove, and later on a propane stove. We gathered our water from a local public well. (for drinking) and from a system of rain barrels, (for bathing and watering the garden.) After about 10 years we hooked up solar power and ran a system of electric lights.

We were (and my parents still are) “off the grid”:

  • 33 years with no well.
  • 33 years with no internet.
  • 33 years with no indoor plumbing.
  • 33 years with no eclectic grid hook up.
  • 33 years of gardening and eating wild game.
  • 33 years of gathering drinking water at a local public well.

All of us children were raised, from 1982 till 2013 when the youngest left home, in a true “homestead” environment.

We lived it.

I lived it.

For the first 18 years of my life.

I ran free in the woods, home schooled only 4 months out of the year, much of it self directed learning. I milked goats, I hunted wild game, I tilled that garden by hand, and toted water from rain barrels to water the plants. I was barefoot all summer long, from May to October. I fished in the river, at the age of 9, with no adult supervision.

It was, quite literal, “homestead” living.

It really was.


We had a real house, insulated, enclosed on all 6 sides, and heated. We had a fully enclosed, 7 foot deep, ventilated outhouse, with a real toilet seat and a locking door located a sanitary distance form the house. We had bedrooms, with real beds and real mattresses, for the children, one for the girls, one for the boys, (bunk beds with your brothers can be great!) We had a bathtub. We were kept clean, very clean, by the constant work and insistence of my mother. Our farm animals were kept separate from our yard and our home by fences.

Even our yard was clean, swept with a push broom till it was smooth hard packed earth.

We were healthy.

Our meals were cooked in spotless pans and served on real ceramic plates at a real table, (solid oak, passed down from Grandpa). We had a “real” Homeschooling curriculum for all 12 grades (sure, it said electricity was a mystery and people road dinosaurs like horses just 4,000 years ago, but what can you do?)

The family of 12 (soon to be 13) living on the “Blessed Little Homestead” have none of those things.

I have been on their Facebook page.

I have looked through years of photographs.

I have read post after post, on the public Facebook page and on their public blog.

Their living conditions are among the worst I have ever seen. Ever.

My family was not the only one “homesteading” in this remote area of the Pacific North West. I knew over a dozen families living in nearly the same conditions as my self. That is: living on clean, well organized and maintained farms and homesteads, usually with out electric or plumbing, often home schooled, and deeply conservative. I knew a family living in a teepee for two years. I knew a small commune of three families living in a communal yurt. And I never, ever, saw living conditions even half as dangerous, anarchistic or filthy as what is shown on the “Blessed Little Homestead” site and Facebook page.

This family isn’t “homesteading”, they are, for all practical purposes, homeless.

This family does not have the cabin featured in some of the photographs, it was bought on credit and later “returned”.

This family was living, twelve deep, in a tree sided shack. The floor is covered in dirt and filth, the children are as well. The shack they sleep in is built from old pallets and two by fours. I won’t bore you with the details of structural integrity, but let’s just say that I am very surprised the shack did not collapse under last winters several feet of snow (photos of which are on the BLH public Facebook page) and kill or injure the 12 family members huddled inside.

(Note how the two by fours are driven, with out foundation, strait into the dirt, and how the load bearing single two by fours in the front of the shack are spaced 6 feet apart.)

I could go on for pages about the myriad dangers from accident and infection and disease these children were being exposed to on a daily basis. I could mention the animal dung covering the whole area in a layer of slime, pounded into a grimy coating by the bare feet of ten children, draining with the rain and melting snow, down hill from the “homestead” into the pond that has now, after several years of occupation, apparently gone from being home to fish and turtles (in earlier photos) to being a mud pit doubling as an open sewer choked with animal dung.

I could mention the generator and gasoline cans, (visible in several photos) located right next to the shack ( there is an extreme danger of carbon monoxide poisoning killing the entire family, in fact, the only reason I suspect this hasn’t happened yet is the fact the dwelling is not enclosed on all four sides).

I could mention the filthy conditions of the “cooking area”, including dirt encrusted plastic cups, drifting smoke and food being eaten by the grimy unwashed hands of children as young as 4 who cooked their own meals, over the open flames. (also clearly visible in photos on the B.L.H. public Facebook page.)

I could mention the photos of dog bites, wasp stings, scrapes, cuts, and bruises.

I could mention that the BLH blog links to articles about how Tetanus shots aren’t needed as long as the:  “wound bleeds, cus Tetanus can’t live in oxygen and there is oxygen in your blood”    (I kid you not).

I could mention the  fact that with out any doubt what so ever, this “homestead” also smells like an open sewer.

It does.

I know because I grew up on a farm/homestead.

I know because you simply can’t have 8 goats, 7 dogs, two cats, a dozen chickens and twelve people living loose around a muddy pond in the Kentucky summer heat with no running water and not have it smell so rancid that it could be smelled half a mile away.

It’s impossible.

This has been framed as a “off the grid” issue. It is not. “Off the grid” does not mean, by default: dangerous, filthy, ignorant of basic food preparation and safety, anti Government and anti documentation. “Off the Grid” living can be done safely, cleanly, and in full compliance with all local laws and regulations (in many states). I know. I lived it.

This has been framed as a homeschool issue.

It is not.

Kentucky has very open homeschooling laws. It’s legal. Heck, “un-schooling” is legal there too.

The children were taken because it was unsafe. VERY unsafe, not because they were homeschooled.

This, surprisingly, has not been overly framed as a religious issue, at least not yet.

But this isn’t about homeschooling, parents rights, “off the grid living” “government control”, “erosion of our right to do what we please” etc.

It isn’t.

It is about the fact that the conditions at this particular site, in this particular case, with this particular family, where absolutely horrifyingly dangerous, unsanitary, and unsafe on multiple levels. This isn’t hearsay or supposing.

This is clearly visible in dozens on dozens of posts and photos posted publicly by the family themselves.

Quite frankly, I am surprised all the children made it out alive.

A Brief Word of Caution Regarding Joe and Nicole Naugler, The “Off-Grid” Homeschooling Family

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 11.28.33 AM

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Have you seen the article going around entitled, “BREAKING: Police Seize 10 Children From Homeschool Family Because They’re Off-Grid”? The one about the “off-grid” homeschoolers, Joe and Nicole Naugler, whose children were allegedly stolen because of the family’s off-grid lifestyle? (Karen Campbell’s Relationship Homeschooling​ and HSLDA’s​ shared it today.)

Please know that there is so much more to know about the Nauglers than meets the eye in this case: allegations of theft, illegal transportation, fleeing the law, threatening neighbors with death, child neglect, and more. Homeschoolers and unschoolers that actually know the family are cautioning people that this family is troubled. HA blog partner Kathryn Brightbill is working on a summary of the situation that we will crosspost and share once it is complete. (It is complete! Read it here.) In the mean time, please exercise caution (and encourage your friends on social media to do so as well) before promoting their story and/or giving them money.

Update, 05/08/2015, 2:41 pm Pacific: The following image was shared by the family’s mother, Nicole Naugler, on Facebook. Nicole described it as the intake call against them:

10417585_10207024422955024_7297186380181231541_nFurthermore, Nicole has revealed that her children do not have identification documents:

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 3.00.51 PM

This can lead to situations of identification abuse, as we have documented in our 2015 Survey of Identification Abuse Within Homeschooling and seen in the stories of Alecia Pennington, Cynthia Jeub, and Eleanor Skelton.

Update, 05/08/2015, 5:23 pm Pacific: Kathryn Brightbill has finished her excellent synopsis of what’s going with Joe and Nicole Naugler. The situation is highly complicated and, as Kathryn points out, “What these things do demonstrate, at the very least, is that this family desperately needs help and they ought not be lifted up by homeschoolers as martyrs for the movement.” Read Kathryn’s synopsis here.

The History of Homeschooling, 1904-Present

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

The following is a historical timeline of the modern U.S. homeschooling movement from 1904 through the present. It details the various and divergent aspects of homeschooling — from the leftist unschooling movement pioneered by John Holt to the conservative Christian takeover masterminded by Michael Farris, Gregg Harris, Mary Pride, and Brian Ray, the so-called “Four Pillars of Homeschooling.” The purpose of this timeline is to educate the public about how homeschooling has evolved over the years and also reveal divisions that have plagued it since its beginnings. Please feel free to make suggestions for changes or additions in either the comments or by emailing us at


In the Indiana Appellate Court case State v. Peterman, the Court defines a school as “a place where instruction is imparted to the young” and holds that “a school at home counts as a private school.”[i]


Influenced by the Catholic Worker movement, Norbert and Marion Shickel begin subsistence farming. They homeschool their 13 children and call their homeschool “Mary Hill Country School.” Their local school district is not only impressed by their homeschooling, but also “actively sought [Marion] out to deal with some of their problem cases.”[ii]


In Illinois, Marjorie Levisen and her husband Lincoln are convicted of truancy for violating the state’s compulsory attendance law. Marjorie had decided to not enroll her daughter in public school and instead enrolled her in the Home Study Institute, a Seventh Day Adventist correspondence course.[iii] The Levisens are Seventh Day Adventists who believe “that the child should not be educated in competition with other children because it produces a pugnacious character, that the necessary atmosphere of faith in the Bible cannot be obtained in the public school, and that for the first eight or ten years of a child’s life the field or garden is the best schoolroom, the mother the best teacher, and nature the best lesson book.”[iv] In the Illinois Supreme Court case People v. Levisen, the truancy conviction is overturned and the Court rules that Levisen’s homeschooling via correspondence course “did qualify as private schooling under Illinois law.”[v]

Marjorie Levisen and her children. In 1950, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Levisen’s homeschooling via correspondence course qualified as private schooling under Illinois law.
Marjorie Levisen and her children. In 1950, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Levisen’s homeschooling via correspondence course qualified as private schooling under Illinois law.


Paul Goodman writes Growing Up Absurd.

R.J. Rushdoony writes the book, Intellectual Schizophrenia, a critique of tax-funded, public education.”[vi]

Bill Gothard incorporates Campus Teams, the organization that will later become the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP).[vii]


Many conservative Protestants pull their children out of public schools on account of Supreme Court decisions that force racial desegregation and ban school-officiated religious activities (such as school-sponsored Bible reading). Their complaint is that the Court “put the Negroes in the schools—now they put God out of the schools.”[viii]


Raymond Moore cofounds the Hewitt Research Foundation with Carl Hewitt.[ix]

R.J. Rushdoony writes The Messianic Character of American Education, a critique of the educational philosophies of over two dozen of the major founders and philosophers of American progressive education, from Horace Mann to John Dewey.[x]


Paul Goodman writes Compulsory Miseducation. Between this and Growing Up Absurd, Goodman argues “that compelling children to attend school is not the best use of their youth, and that education is more a community function than an institutional one. This idea was developed and amplified over the years by many authors, but most forcefully by John Holt.”[xi]

John Holt writes How Children Fail. This book “created an uproar with his observations that forcing children to learn makes them unnaturally self-conscious about learning and stifles children’s initiative and creativity by making them focus on how to please the teachers and the schools with the answers they will reward best, a situation that creates a fake type of learning.”[xii]

Francis Schaeffer first encounters the writings of R.J. Rushdoony. He makes Rushdoony’s book, This Independent Republic, the basis of a seminar for students at L’Abri in Switzerland.[xiii]

Wheaton College, Bill Gothard’s alma mater, invites Gothard “to design and teach a course based on his work with youth.” The course is given the name “Basic Youth Conflicts.”[xiv]


R.J. Rushdoony founds the Chalcedon Foundation.[xv] The Foundation affirms homeschooling as not only one of the most important institutions for implementing Rushdoony’s ideology of Christian Reconstructionism,[xvi] but also “the only model for education given in the Bible.”[xvii]


In New Jersey, Barbara and Frank Massa remove their daughter from public school to homeschool her. This action leads to the 1967 New Jersey Superior Court decision State v. Massa.[xviii]


The New Jersey Superior Court rules in State v. Massa that homeschoolers satisfy the “elsewhere than at school” portion of New Jersey’s compulsory school attendance statute. The Court declares not only that “a child may be taught at home,” but also that the homeschooling teacher “need not be certified by the State of New Jersey to so teach.”[xix] This vindicates Barbara and Frank Massa’s decision the previous year to remove their daughter from public school to homeschool her.

In response to school authorities demanding Amish children attend public school, the Iowa legislature passes SF 785, establishing “an exemption from compulsory school attendance for members of religious denominations which profess ‘principles or tenents [sic] that differ substantially from the objectives, goals, and philosophy of education embodied’” in public school.[xx]

John Holt writes How Children Learn.


Paul Lindstrom founds the Christian Liberty Academy as a result of dissatisfaction with government schools. From this academy is developed a homeschool curriculum known as CLASS. Many of the early seminal court decisions that helped to win the right to homeschool involved homeschoolers who were affiliated with CLASS.[xxi]


Dr. Henry Morris founds the Institute for Creation Research.[xxii]


Ivan Illich writes Deschooling Society, which influences Holt. After Deschooling Society appears, Holt studies and corresponds with Illich at length.[xxiii]

Everett Reimer writes School is Dead: Alternatives in Education.

Edith Schaeffer writes her book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, which later inspires Mary Pride in her writings.[xxiv]


Raymond Moore writes “The dangers of early schooling” for Harper’s Magazine.[xxv]

Reader’s Digest publishes a condensed version of Moore’s piece for Harper’s as “When Should Your Child Go To School?”,[xxvi] which “distributed it to millions more readers.”[xxvii]

Shamanist/writing coach Hal Bennett writes No More Public School, which “explains how you can take your child out of public school and educate him at home.”[xxviii]

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Wisconsin v. Yoder (a court case frequently cited by later homeschooling advocates and leaders), rules that Amish children could not be placed under compulsory education past the 8th grade. The Court affirms “the fundamental interest of parents, as contrasted with that of the State, to guide the religious future and education of their children.”[xxix]

After Iowa school authorities try to force Amish children to attend public school, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the 1972 case Wisconsin v. Yoder in favor of religious exemptions from compulsory school attendance.
After Iowa school authorities try to force Amish children to attend public school, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the 1972 case Wisconsin v. Yoder in favor of religious exemptions from compulsory school attendance.


The Colorado legislature revises its compulsory attendance law to exempt from school attendance any student “being educated at home by a parent under an established system of home study approved by the state board [of education].”[xxx]

In Marion, Utah, noted white supremacist John Singer removes his children from public school after his daughter comes home one day with a textbook that celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. and showed a picture of black and white people together. While Singer is initially arrested for doing so, a Utah court rules that he is “permitted…to homeschool his kids so long as they were tested twice a year and received an annual psychological evaluation at the Singer home.”[xxxi]

R.J. Rushdoony writes his book, The Institutes of Biblical Law. Gary North says that this book, which “took the Ten Commandments as the ordering principle [to] be applied to modern life” and “that civil government must be shrunk drastically to meet biblical standards,” “launched the Christian Reconstruction movement.”[xxxii]


John Holt becomes a public advocate for the children’s rights movement with the publication of Escape from Childhood: The Needs and Rights of Children.[xxxiii]

Bill Gothard’s organization Campus Teams is re-named the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts.[xxxiv]


Raymond Moore coauthors Better Late Than Early with his wife Dorothy.

Mormon homeschooling pioneer Joyce Kinmont begins homeschooling[xxxv] because her “6-year-old daughter had become ‘engaged’ to a boy at school.”[xxxvi]


The State of Virginia passes a religious exemption from compulsory school attendance. The exemption states that, “A school board shall excuse from attendance at school…any pupil who, together with his parents, by reason of bona fide religious training or belief is conscientiously opposed to attendance at school.”[xxxvii]

In Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better, John Holt proposes “a new Underground Railroad to help children escape from schools.” This proposal inspires current homeschoolers to contact Holt, which in turn inspires him to create a newsletter for homeschoolers.[xxxviii]


John Holt starts Growing Without Schooling, a bimonthly magazine for those who desire educational activities outside a traditional school framework.[xxxix] Growing Without Schooling is “the nation’s, and probably the world’s, first periodical about homeschooling.”[xl] The magazine is “filled with citations of trial court rulings home schoolers had won. These cases gave parents confidence and helped the home school movement grow.”[xli]

John Holt coins the term “unschooling” in the second edition of Growing Without Schooling.[xlii]

Manfred Smith, who was previously involved with the “radical reform school movement” that embraced free schools, discovers the writings of John Holt and becomes a homeschooling advocate.[xliii]

Nancy Campbell begins publishing her Quiverfull magazine Above Rubies, “seeking to fill a void in the encouragement of women who resisted the lures of feminism and careers.”[xliv]

In Amherst, Massachusetts, Peter and Susan Perchemlides decide to homeschool their son and submit a curriculum proposal to their local superintendent, Donald Frizzle. Frizzle repeatedly rejects their proposal, leading to the 1978 Massachusetts Superior Court case Perchemlides v. Frizzle.[xlv]

In 1977, John Holt starts Growing Without Schooling, the first-ever periodical about homeschooling.
In 1977, John Holt starts Growing Without Schooling, the first-ever periodical about homeschooling.


In Perchemlides v. Frizzle, the Massachusetts Superior Court rules that Peter and Susan Perchemlides, who removed their son to homeschool him and are represented in court by the Western Massachusetts Legal Services and the Cambridge Center for Law and Education, have a constitutional “right to privacy” that includes the right to homeschool. The Court declares, “Parents must be allowed to decide whether public school education, including its socialization aspects, is desirable or undesirable for their children.”[xlvi]

Bob and Linda Session are tried in Iowa Magistrate Court for allegedly “failing to obtain equivalent instruction for their homeschooled 7-year-old.” However, the Sessions are ultimately victorious on appeal. The Iowa District Court rules that, “The state had failed to make its case that the Sessions’ homeschooling program was not equivalent to the instruction provided by a certified teacher.”[xlvii]

Time Magazine runs an article on the homeschooling movement,[xlviii] “the first of its kind in a major American weekly.”[xlix]


John Holt and Bob and Linda Session appear on The Phil Donahue Show,[l] which has “an immediate and dramatic impact on the scope and prestige of homeschooling.” This show is profoundly influential on later homeschoolers, as “many of the first wave of homeschooling families trace their inspiration back to that first Donahue show.”[li]

Steve Gothard, Bill Gothard’s brother and an employee of the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, is discovered to be having sexual relationships with numerous IBYC employees. Bill Gothard “did nothing officially about it.”[lii]

Beverley LaHaye founds the Concerned Women for America, an organization that “opposes the Equal Rights Amendment, abortion, comparable pay legislation for jobs of equal worth, unisex insurance and the 1984 Civil Rights Act.”[liv]

Catholic educator Pat Montgomery becomes a fan of homeschooling. She is asked by a family “to help them teach their nine-year-old at home using the same approach she designed for the students of the campus school.”[lv] Montgomery consequently creates the Home Based Education Program administered through her private school, Clonlara School, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It becomes “a popular correspondence program designed specifically to meet the needs of homeschooling families.”[lvi] It also technically allows parents to obey state laws requiring certification of homeschool teachers (since Montgomery herself is certified).[lvii]


Raymond Moore does his first radio show with Focus on the Family, prompting James Dobson to later say, “I consider Dr. Raymond Moore to be the father of the modern home school movement. The avalanche of mail we received at Focus on the Family after our initial broadcast with Ray in 1979 confirmed that his pioneering theories on education had found a receptive audience.” Note: email correspondence with Milton Gaither indicates that Moore first appeared on Focus on the Family on May 3 and 10, 1980, during a two-part show called “School Can Wait,”. [liii]

Manfred Smith founds the Maryland Home Education Association.[lviii]

Bill Gothard announces his resignation from the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts due to, among numerous charges, sexual harassment accusations against him as well as accusations that he ignored his brother Steve’s sexually inappropriate relationships with IBYC employees. However, Bill “return[s] to power shortly thereafter”[lix] and technically “never left the function of IBYC president.”[lx]

Pat and Sue Welch begin publishing The Teaching Home magazine.[lxi]

Laurence Popanz of Avoca, Wisconsin withdraws his 3 daughters from public school. Popanz informs his district school administrator that he is a member of “The Agency for the Church of the Free Thinker Inc.” and that this church administers “The Free Thinker School,” his own private school in which his daughters are now enrolled. This leads to a conflict that results in the 1983 Wisconsin Supreme Court case Wisconsin v. Popanz.[lxii]

Dr. Anne Carroll creates the first Catholic homeschooling curriculum, Seton Home Study School.[lxiii]


Michael Farris becomes head of Washington State’s Moral Majority, “the largest Moral Majority affiliate in the nation.”[lxiv] As the affiliate director, Farris debates Timothy Leary at Whitman College on LGBT rights.[lxv]

R.J. Rushdoony starts being an “expert witness” in school court cases.[lxvi]

Francis Schaeffer writes his book, A Christian Manifesto, making him “the leading theorist of the ‘religion’ of secular humanism,” against which “the practice of Christian schooling increased.”[lxvii]

Tim LaHaye creates the Council for National Policy, once dubbed “the most powerful conservative group you’ve never heard of.”[lxviii]

Bill Gothard writes his book, Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts: Research in Principles of Life.

Ken and Laurie Huffman create the Utah Home Education Association. Joyce Kinmont organizes the Association’s first conference and features John Holt as the keynote speaker.[lxix]

In 1981, Bill Gothard writes his seminal book, Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts: Research in Principles of Life.
In 1981, Bill Gothard writes his seminal book, Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts: Research in Principles of Life.


After a school board denies homeschooling parents Denise Pierce and Christopher Rice their request to homeschool, the parents appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. In Appeal of Pierce, the Court rules in favor of the parents, saying that, “While the state may adopt a policy requiring children to be educated, it does not have the unlimited power to require they be educated in a certain way or place.”[lxx]

Michael Farris attends a pastor’s seminar taught by Bill Gothard and is converted to the Quiverfull movement.[lxxi]

Michael Smith hears Raymond Moore on James Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio program and he and his wife Elizabeth decide to start homeschooling. As he was professionally a lawyer, Smith “quickly found himself inundated with requests to defend homeschooling families in Southern California.”[lxxii] According to Smith, Moore’s interviews with Focus on the Family “laid the foundation for the early explosion of the home-school movement.”[lxxiii]

Michael Farris travels from Washington to Utah to tape a radio program with Tim and Beverly LaHaye. HSLDA says, “Raymond Moore, a guest on the program, was there to discuss homeschooling. By the end of the day, Dr. Moore had convinced Mike, as well as the LaHaye’s daughter, to homeschool.”[lxxiv] Many other notable homeschool leaders credit these interviews as foundational.[lxxv]


Michael and Vickie Farris and Michael and Elizabeth Smith found the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).[lxxvi]

Michael Farris moves from Olympia, Washington to Washington, D.C. to become the general counsel of the LaHayes’ organization Concerned Women for America.[lxxvii] He helps Beverly LaHaye defeat the Equal Rights Amendment.[lxxviii]

Mark and Helen Hegener begin publishing Home Education Magazine.[lxxix]

Cathy Duffy begins her career as a “curriculum specialist” for the homeschooling movement.[lxxx]

Francis Schaeffer’s daughter, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, writes her treatise on Christian education, “For the Children’s Sake.” Cathy Duffy considers Macaulay’s book “foundational reading for those beginning to homeschool”[lxxxi] and the book causes the work of Charlotte Mason to experience “a resurgence among Christian homeschoolers.”[lxxxii]

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in Wisconsin v. Popanz, supports Laurence Popanz’s decision in 1980 to withdraw his 3 daughters and enroll them in his home-based private school, “The Free Thinker School.” The Court overturns “the state’s compulsory school attendance law by holding that the attendance law could not be enforced against parents or guardians who sent their children to an unrecognized private school because the statutory phrase ‘private school’ was so vague that it was impossible to determine whether or not children were attending a private school.” In response, the Wisconsin legislature passes the 1983 Wisconsin Act 512, providing that “instruction in a home-based program may be substituted for attendance at a public or private school only if the home program meets all the criteria required of a private school.”[lxxxiii]


Manfred Smith’s Maryland Home Education Association organizes the legal defense for Kathleen Miller, a Maryland homeschooling parent charged with truancy. According to Smith, “The trial lasted two days, and the defense team overwhelmed the prosecution. The trial proved that Mrs. Miller was in full compliance of the law and that anyone could homeschool in Maryland so long as they provided regular and thorough instruction to their children.”[lxxxiv]

The Coalition on Revival is formed “to form a united, spiritual army willing to help mobilize the Body of Christ.”[lxxxv] The original steering committee includes Gary DeMar, Michael Farris, Duane Gish, Timothy LaHaye, Josh McDowell, Gary North, R.J. Rushdoony, and Edith Schaeffer.[lxxxvi]

Beverley LaHaye’s Concerned Women for America applies for — and is denied — $85,000 in federal funding “to survey the nation’s 16,000 school districts for school policies, textbooks and classroom activities that Beverly LaHaye believes violate parental rights.”[lxxxvii]

Bill Gothard, Dr. Larry Guthrie, and Inge Cannon begin development of the Advanced Training Institute (ATI),[lxxxviii] a homeschooling program in which “the core curriculum is the Wisdom Booklets, a 3,000-page amplification of the Sermon on the Mount.”[lxxxix]

Jordan Lorence is hired as a part-time attorney for HSLDA.[xc]


The North Carolina Supreme Court rules in Delconte v. State that, “Homeschools should be permitted to operate under the rules governing private schools.”[xci]

Chris Klicka becomes HSLDA’s first full-time attorney.[xcii]

John Holt dies.[xciii]

Francis Schaeffer’s son, Frank Schaeffer (who was himself homeschooled[xciv]), is a literary agent and discovers an author named Mary Pride.[xcv] Mary Pride writes her seminal book, The Way Home, detailing “her post-college embrace of evangelical Christianity, which led to her repudiation of what she saw as anti-biblical feminist ideals.”[xcvi] Starting with this book, Pride is considered by some to be “the Spiritual Mother of the Quiverfull Movement.”[xcvii]

The number of homeschooled children reaches 50,000.[xcviii]

Large-scale homeschooling conferences (with 1,000 or more attendees) begin to spring up across the nation.[xcix]

Conservative Christian homeschoolers become the dominant force within homeschooling, changing “the nature of homeschooling from a crusade against ‘the establishment’ to a crusade against the secular forces of modern-day society.”[c]

Michael and Vickie Farris and Michael and Elizabeth Smith found HSLDA in 1983. Pictured, left to right: Michael Smith, Michael Farris, David Gordon, and Chris Klicka.
Michael and Vickie Farris and Michael and Elizabeth Smith found HSLDA in 1983. Pictured, left to right: Michael Smith, Michael Farris, David Gordon, and Chris Klicka.


Kirk McCord and Brad Chamberlain establish the Texas Home School Coalition as a political action committee “because of the numerous lawsuits against home schoolers across [Texas] and harmful legislation being introduced in Austin.”[ci]

Michael Farris begins working full time with HSLDA.[cii]

Michael Farris allegedly signs the Coalition for Revival’s 1986 manifesto, which declares, “We believe American can be turned and once again function as a Christian nation.” Farris later denies signing it.[ciii]

Mary Pride publishes The Big Book of Home Learning, “the first mass-market homeschool how-to book.”[civ]


Michael Smith moves from Santa Monica, California to Washington, D.C. to work full time with HSLDA.[cv]


Gregg Harris writes The Christian Home School. Harris’s “early Homeschooling Workshops inspired thousands of families to begin homeschooling and many state homeschool organizations to launch annual state conferences.”[cvi]


Bill Gothard’s organization, the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (originally called Campus Teams in 1961), is renamed the Institute in Basic Life Principles, the name which it continues to have today.[cvii]

David Barton launches WallBuilders,[cviii] an organization dedicated to “educating the nation concerning the Godly foundation of our country” in order to inspire “public policies which reflect Biblical values.”[cix]

Cheryl Seelhoff starts her homeschooling magazine Gentle Spirit, “a small magazine for (mostly) Christian women living the simple life at home.”[cx]


Brian Ray creates the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI).[cxi]

HSLDA founds the National Center for Home Education “to serve state leaders by providing information about state and federal legislation of concern to home schoolers.”[cxii]

Joyce Kinmont founds the LDS Home Educators Association.[cxiii]

Christian Home Educators of Colorado is founded.[cxiv]

After creating ATI’s Wisdom Booklets and directing Bill Gothard’s ATI program for 6 years, Inge Cannon is invited by Michael Farris to head up HSLDA’s National Center for Home Education.[cxv]

HSLDA membership reaches over 15,000 families and spans all 50 U.S. states.[cxvi]

Cheryl Seelhoff appears on a Focus on the Family radio program, an appearance that “brought mounting attention to Gentle Spirit.”[cxvii]

Rick and Jan Hess publish A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ, a foundational text of the Quiverfull movement.


During the 1990-91 school year, fewer than 2,000 homeschoolers sought assistance from HSLDA.[cxviii]

HSLDA goes international with the formation of HSLDA Canada.[cxix]

Jordan Lorence becomes a full-time attorney for HSLDA.[cxx]

Doug Phillips begins working for HSLDA as their first law clerk.[cxxi]

Inspired by the work of John Holt, Grace Llewellyn publishes her book The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education. The book “speaks directly to teens, encouraging them to consider the unschooling option”[cxxii] and embrace youth rights.

Sociologist Jane Van Galen classifies homeschoolers into two groups: ideologues and pedagogues.[cxxiii]


Homeschooling is officially recognized as a legal option in every state.[cxxiv]

John Taylor Gatto publishes Dumbing Us Down, the central argument of which is that “schools are not failing,” rather, they are “explicitly set up to ensure a docile, malleable workforce to meet the growing, changing demands of corporate capitalism.”[cxxv] This book puts him in “heavy demand as a speaker to groups ranging from principals’ associations to software companies to homeschool conferences.”[cxxvi]


Michael Farris runs unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.[cxxvii]

Mary Pride and her husband Bill appear on the first edition of Wired Magazine, promoting the use of computer software in homeschooling.[cxxviii]

Doug Phillips becomes the Director of Government Affairs for HSLDA’s National Center for Home Education.[cxxix]

President Bill Clinton signs the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a bill drafted by Michael Farris. Farris is unable to attend the signing ceremony so Doug Phillips attends in his place.[cxxx]


Michael Farris establishes the Madison Project.[cxxxi] The organization “raises money for conservative candidates through [its] network of grassroots conservatives”[cxxxii] and currently has a budget of over $5 million.[cxxxiii] The group becomes known for evading federal election laws regarding donation limits by engaging in a fundraising practice called “bundling.”[cxxxiv]

Gregg Harris’ son, Josh Harris, creates New Attitude, a magazine aimed at teenage homeschoolers.[cxxxv]

H.R. 6 sends cataclysmic divisions throughout the U.S. homeschooling movement.[cxxxvi] Doug Phillips plays a central role in HSLDA’s efforts against the bill.[cxxxvii]

In October, Raymond Moore vehemently attacks not only HSLDA for how it handled the H.R. 6 situation but also all four of the “Pillars of Homeschooling” (Farris, Harris, Pride, and Ray) in his White Papers, or “The Ravage of Home Education Through Exclusion By Religion.” [cxxxviii] Moore accuses Gregg Harris of property theft, saying Harris “raped our Foundation program in the crudest, boldest, most dishonest spree ever.” He also lambasts all the “Pillars” for a “form of bigotry” he labels “Protestant Exclusivism.”[cxxxix]

Larry and Susan Kaseman argue in Home Education Magazine that HSLDA is undermining (via federalization) the entire homeschool movement and its rights, placing homeschooling freedoms at risk.[cxl]

HSLDA successfully lobbies against the U.S. ratification of United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.[cxli]

Cheryl Seelhoff’s magazine Gentle Spirit reaches approximately 15,000 subscribers and generates a gross income of $300,000.[cxlii]

Ken Ham launches Creation Science Ministries in the U.S., later renamed Answers in Genesis.[cxliii]

In 1994, Doug Phillips played a central role in HSLDA’s efforts against H.R. 6, a bill that sent cataclysmic divisions throughout the U.S. homeschooling movement. Pictured, left to right: HSLDA President J. Michael Smith, Doug and Jubilee Phillips, and HSLDA board member Dick Honnaker at HSLDA’s 2004 National Leadership Conference in Spokane, Washington.
In 1994, Doug Phillips played a central role in HSLDA’s efforts against H.R. 6, a bill that sent cataclysmic divisions throughout the U.S. homeschooling movement. Pictured, left to right: HSLDA President J. Michael Smith, Doug and Jubilee Phillips, and
HSLDA board member Dick Honnaker at HSLDA’s 2004 National Leadership Conference in Spokane, Washington.


The number of homeschooled children is between 500,000 and 750,000.[cxliv]

Christopher Klicka writes his book The Right Choice: Home Schooling. The book contends that “sending our children to the public school violates nearly every biblical principle” and homeschooling is the “biblical form of education.” Klicka includes a chapter by Gregg Harris that argues against interfaith homeschool support groups because “biblical methods of discipline may be reported by fellow group members to authorizes as ‘child abuse’” Klicka’s also includes a section written by R.J. Rushdoony, in which it is argued that a child’s will “must be broken.” [cxlv]

IBLP and HSLDA stakeholders (including Bill Gothard, Michael Farris, and Jordan Lorence)[cxlvi] launch Oak Brook College of Law, a “law school for homeschoolers.”[cxlvii]


HSLDA joins (and pays membership dues) to Tim LaHaye’s Council for National Policy.[cxlviii]

Michael Farris’s daughter, Christy Farris (now Christy Shipe), starts a homeschool debate league through HSLDA.[cxlix]

Tim Echols incorporates TeenPact, “with a mission to train youth to understand the political process, value their liberty, defend the Christian faith, and engage the culture.”[cl]

Mary Pride’s sales of The Big Book of Home Learning reach close to a quarter million copies.[cli]

Grace Llewellyn founds the Not Back to School Camp. The camp is for “unschoolers & homeschoolers ages 13-18” and “aspires to create a sanctuary that affirms, inspires, and mentors unschoolers” through normative outdoor camp activities and crafts.[clii]


Cathy Duffy presents John Taylor Gatto with the “Alexis de Tocqueville” Award from the Alliance for the Separation of School and State.[cliii]

13-year-old Rebecca Sealfon of Brooklyn, New York wins the National Spelling Bee, bringing “new attention to the growing phenomenon of homeschooling” as she is “the first homeschooled child to win the National Spelling Bee.”[cliv] Sealfon, however, is not entirely positive about homeschooling, noting that, “One disadvantage is that many of your friends are not at your same age, and there is not the same socialization quite like I would have in school.”[clv]

Josh Harris writes I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which “singlehandedly made the word ‘courtship’ popular in mainstream evangelical circles.”[clvi]

Cheryl Seelhoff, publisher of the Gentle Spirit homeschooling magazine, sues 3 of the “Pillars of Homeschooling” — Sue Welch, Gregg Harris, and Mary Pride — as well as others for “defamation, slander, intentional infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with commerce, and violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.”[clvii] Michael Farris provides counsel to the defendants.[clviii]

HSLDA holds the very first national homeschool debate tournament at Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville, Virginia. Christy Farris (now Christy Shipe) is the tournament organizer.[clix]

David and Teresa Moon launch Communicators for Christ (CFC), a nationwide tour teaching homeschooled students public speaking and debate. CFC is later renamed the Institute for Cultural Communicators, with the goal “to equip Christians to shape the future through authentic leadership and cultural communication. “[clx]

HSLDA successfully lobbies against HB 211, a New Hampshire bill that would have included “psychological injury” and “isolation” as forms of child abuse.[clxi]

The Homeschool Sports Network is launched, a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting homeschool sports events and teams.


Doug Phillips leaves HSLDA and founds Vision Forum Ministries with the aim “to facilitate the restoration of the Biblical family.”[clxii]

Cheryl Seelhoff is victorious in her lawsuit against Sue Welch, Gregg Harris, and Mary Pride. In the court case Seelhoff vs. Welch, the jury “returned a verdict saying the defendants Welch entered into an illegal conspiracy in restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Act, that damages were caused and determined the damages to Cheryl’s business were in the amount of $445,000. In antitrust actions, awards are automatically trebled, so Cheryl was entitled to receive in excess of 1.3 million dollars from Sue Welch.”[clxiii] Prior to the trial, “Welch’s co-defendants Gregg Harris, Christian Home Educators of Ohio and its then-chairperson, and Bill and Mary Pride settled with plaintiff Gentle Spirit publisher and editor Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff.”[clxiv]

HSLDA has 45 employees and reaches 53,000 member families.[clxv]

California homeschool activist Mary Griffith publishes The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom, a book that becomes immensely popular among unschoolers. The book is “focused on the idea that children learn best when they pursue their own natural curiosity and interests.”[clxvi]


Kevin Swanson becomes the Executive Director of Christian Home Educators of Colorado.[clxvii]

HSLDA holds its “Proclaim Liberty” conference in Washington, D.C., where many Republican presidential candidates show their support for homeschooling.[clxviii]

Then-Senator John Ashcroft honors “home schoolers throughout America by presenting Mike Farris with Senate Resolution 183—recognizing September 19-25, 1999, as ‘National Home Education Week.’”[clxix]

HSLDA admits using member dues to pay for Michael Farris’s membership in the Council for National Policy.[clxx]

The National Home Education Network (NHEN) is launched as an inclusive, interfaith alternative to HSLDA. Founded by homeschoolers frustrated with HSLDA’s exclusivism,[clxxi] NHEN declares it “espouses no one particular political agenda or homeschooling philosophy”[clxxii] and “formed in order to expand the general public’s image of homeschoolers to what we truly are, an enormously diverse group which cannot be neatly categorized.”[clxxiii] The founding Board of Trustees include Lisa Bugg, Laura Derrick, Carol Moxley, Sue Patterson, Pam Sorooshian, and Barb Weirich.[clxxiv] The organization’s regional contacts include Linda Dobson, Barbara Weirich, David H. Albert, Elizabeth Bernard, and Holly Furgason.[clxxv]

In 1997, 13-year-old Rebecca Sealfon of Brooklyn, New York becomes the first homeschooled student to win the National Spelling Bee.
In 1997, 13-year-old Rebecca Sealfon of Brooklyn, New York becomes the first homeschooled student to win the National Spelling Bee.


The Texas Home School Coalition incorporates as a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization “to serve and protect home school families in Texas.”[clxxvi] The organization represents “home-schoolers disenchanted with the HSLDA Texas affiliate.”[clxxvii]

John Holzmann, co-founder of the Christian homeschool curriculum company Sonlight, announces that Sonlight will “dissociate from HSLDA” because of HSLDA’s tactics against supporters of Cheryl Seelhoff.[clxxviii]

Michael Farris and HSLDA launch Patrick Henry College[clxxix] “with the primary goal of training conservative, fundamental leaders who will work for legislators and think tanks.”[clxxx]

Salon covers the internal conflicts within homeschooling between “conservative” homeschooling groups (HSLDA, the “Four Pillars”) and others. Mark Hegener, co-founder of Home Education Magazine, declares that HSLDA is “part of a socially conservative constituency network using home schooling as a way to further its political goals.”[clxxxi]

In partnership with German homeschoolers, HSLDA creates Schulunterricht zu Hause, a Germany-based homeschool legal defense association.[clxxxii]

Eric and Joyce Burges found the National Black Home Educators Resource Association, later renamed National Black Home Educators. The organization is “affiliated with HSLDA” and “has grown to become the premiere national organization for Black homeschooling families in this country.”[clxxxiii]

HSLDA’s homeschool speech and debate league becomes a separate organization, the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA). NCFCA’s original seven-member board of directors includes Christy Shipe, Teresa Moon, Todd Cooper, Michael Farris, Skip Rutledge, Deborah Haffey, and Terry Stollar. [clxxxiv]

The number of homeschooled children reaches 1.7 million.[clxxxv]

HSLDA has 70,000 member families.[clxxxvi]

Attorneys meeting at the annual Homeschool of California Conference decide to launch the Association of Home School Attorneys, an HSLDA alternative with the goal of “helping homeschooling families negotiate legal issues that are unique to homeschoolers, including the legality of homeschooling, obtaining services from the public schools, custody issues, and contacts from child protection agencies.”[clxxxvii]

Homeschooling baseball coaches Lori Cochran and Jeff Hartline launch the Homeschool World Series Association, a national homeschool baseball tournament.[clxxxviii]

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs calls for all FLDS families to remove their children from public schools in order to homeschool them with his own FLDS curriculum.[clxxxix]


R.J. Rushdoony dies.[cxc]

The National Household Education Survey finds that 70 percent of homeschoolers cite a nonreligious reason as the top motivator in their decision to home school.[cxci]


National and state homeschool leaders across the U.S. join together to launch the National Alliance of Christian Home Education Leadership, Inc., otherwise known as “The Alliance.” The organization is “dedicated to the support of Christian statewide home education organizations”[cxcii] and hosts an annual training conference that allows leaders of Christian state homeschooling organizations to train and network. The Alliance has an approximate annual income of $100,000.[cxciii] Its original staff includes Kenneth R. Patterson, Bruce Eagleson, Susan Beatty, and David Watkins.

HSLDA creates Generation Joshua, a youth civics program with the goal “to ignite a vision in young people to help America return to her Judeo-Christian foundation.” Generation Joshua founding director Ned Ryun says, “In another ten or fifteen years, we may see a disproportionate number of homeschoolers in positions of highest leadership.”[cxciv]

Michael Farris files a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court defending a Texas law that makes it a crime for two people of the same sex to engage in consensual sexual activity.[cxcv]

HSLDA membership reaches over 70,000 families internationally.[cxcvi]

HSLDA commissions NHERI’s Brian Ray to conduct “the largest research survey to date of adults who were home educated.”[cxcvii] While Ray’s study “is widely cited to support the claim that graduates of homeschooling are well-socialized and go on to lead successful lives,” it unfortunately “has so many methodological problems that we can draw few conclusions from it.”[cxcviii]

Homeschooling parent and lawyer Deborah Stevenson founds the National Home Education Legal Defense (NHELD). Stevenson creates the organization as an alternative to HSLDA because she believes HSLDA aims “to actively promote the adoption of federal regulation of homeschooling.”[cxcix]

The number of black homeschoolers reaches 103,000.[cc]

Jennifer and Michael James found the National African-American Homeschoolers Alliance,[cci] “the only nonsectarian organization for African-American homeschooling families.”[ccii]

Mitchell Stevens publishes Kingdom of Children: Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement, a sociological study of the modern homeschooling movement. Stevens divides homeschoolers into two camps, the “inclusive” unschoolers and the religious “believers.”[cciii]

African American scholar Paula Penn-Nabrit publishes Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League. Penn-Nabrit receives “a lot of open hostility” due to detailing “accounts of the discrimination her sons allegedly faced in public school” and her emphasis on “an Afrocentric approach to education.”[cciv]

Noticing her local Islamic school does not offer “a comprehensive Islamic Studies and Arabic curriculum,” Cilia Ndiaye founds the Al-Duha Institute.[ccv] The Institute offers the first-ever Islamic homeschooling curriculum. Thousands of copies of the curriculum are sold to Islamic homeschoolers around the world.[ccvi] is created in 2003 “to provide information, resources, and a place to share and connect with secular homeschoolers across the world.”[ccvii]


Tim and Beverly LaHaye present Michael Farris with the “Alexis de Tocqueville” Award from the Alliance for the Separation of School and State.[ccviii]

HSLDA backs an amendment to the U.S Constitution to ban both same-sex marriages and civil unions.[ccix]

Homeschool alumna Lila Rose creates LiveAction, an organization that conducts hidden camera stings on Planned Parenthood. Rose is a former NCFCA debater.[ccx]

Jolene Irving founds the National LDS Homeschool Association.[ccxi]

Unschooling advocate Sandra Dodd coins the phrase “radical unschooling” to signify the erasure of the division between academic and non-academic activities.[ccxii]

In 2003, African American scholar Paula Penn-Nabrit publishes Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League. Her homeschooling story causes waves among many African American communities.
In 2003, African American scholar Paula Penn-Nabrit publishes Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League. Her homeschooling story causes waves among many African American and educational communities.


The number of homeschooled children reaches 1.9 to 2.4 million.[ccxiii]

Gregg Harris’ kids, Alex and Brett Harris, create “The Rebelution,” a blog aiming to “’wake up’ other teenagers.”[ccxiv] The Rebelution becomes immensely popular, currently boasting “more than 40 million page views.”[ccxv] Alex and Brett are former NCFCA debaters.[ccxvi]


The National African-American Homeschoolers Alliance reaches 3,000 member families.[ccxvii]

Reb Bradley pens an article called “Solving the Crisis in Homeschooling,” which later goes viral with the name “Homeschool Blindspots.” Bradley describes the “crisis” in the following way: “Parents have graduated their first batch of kids, only to discover that their children didn’t turn out the way they thought they would. Many of these children were model homeschoolers while growing up, but sometime after their 18th birthday they began to reveal that they didn’t hold to their parents’ values.”[ccxviii]


Raymond Moore dies.[ccxix]

HSLDA creates, a parental rights advocacy group.[ccxx]

Alex and Brett Harris’s Rebelution launches “The Modesty Survey,” described as “an exciting, anonymous discussion between Christian guys and girls who care about modesty.”[ccxxi]

The National Household Education Survey finds that homeschooling parents list religious or moral instruction as the most important reason why they homeschool.[ccxxii]

The homeschool industry generates $650 million in sales annually.[ccxxiii]

Unschooling advocate Dayna Martin and her husband Joe appear on the Dr. Phil Show,[ccxxiv] introducing 50 million viewers to Martin’s philosophy of “radical unschooling.”

HSLDA creates its Lifetime Achievement Award and names it after Gregg Harris. The “Gregg Harris Award for Leadership” is first awarded to its namesake.[ccxxv]


HSLDA awards NHERI’s Brian Ray its Lifetime Achievement Award, the Gregg Harris Award for Leadership.[ccxxvi]

The National African-American Homeschoolers Alliance disbands.

Dayna Martin founds Unschooling United, a non-profit organization dedicated to unschooling advocacy.[ccxxvii]

After homeschooled speech and debate competitors protest NCFCA’s national tournament being held at Bob Jones University on account of the University’s history of legalism and racism, California separates from NCFCA and forms a new speech and debate league, STOA.[ccxxviii]

Nancy Campbell’s Above Rubies magazine reaches a readership of 150,000.[ccxxix]

Milton Gaither publishes Homeschool: An American History, “the first scholarly book-length treatment of its theme.”[ccxxx]

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services removes 437 children from FLDS leader Warren Jeffs’s Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, TX due to allegations of widespread child abuse. This removal leads to “the largest child custody battle in U.S. history.”[ccxxxi] While the children are eventually returned, numerous cases of child sexual abuse are substantiated.[ccxxxii]


Kevin Swanson resigns as Executive Director of Christian Home Educators of Colorado in order to become the full-time Director of Generations with Vision and its radio program, Generations Radio.[ccxxxiii]

HSLDA awards Focus on the Family’s James Dobson its Lifetime Achievement Award, the Gregg Harris Award for Leadership.[ccxxxiv]

Kevin Swanson’s Christian Home Educators of Colorado hosts the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit at IBLP’s Indianapolis Training Center. The Summit features Kevin Swanson, Doug Phillips, Chris Klicka, Voddie Baucham, and Brian Ray and aims to “define a vision for the future of the Christian home education movement” and develop “a Christian Education Manifesto statement.”[ccxxxv]

Dayna Martin publishes her book Radical Unschooling – A Revolution Has Begun.

Unschooling advocate Sandra Dodd publishes her book Big Book of Unschooling.

Chris Klicka dies.[ccxxxvi]

Robert Kunzman publishes Write These Laws on Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling, a study of six conservative Christian families who have decided to homeschool. Milton Gaither calls it “one of the most important books on homeschooling ever written.”

The Christian Law Association, run by David Gibbs Jr., launches a homeschool legal defense organization alternative to HSLDA. The organization is called Homeschool Legal Advantage (HLA) and is run by Gibbs Jr. and his son, David C. Gibbs III.[ccxxxvii] Gibbs III says HLA is “on track to have over 10,000 member families by the Spring of 2010.”[ccxxxviii]


HSLDA invites IBLP’s Bill Gothard to be a special guest speaker at the 2010 National Leadership Conference.[ccxxxix]

HSLDA awards Bill Gothard its Lifetime Achievement Award, the Gregg Harris Award for Leadership.[ccxl]

Tim Echols and his organization TeenPact are accused on engaging in legally questionable campaign practices after Echols directs “150 home-schooled Christian teenagers” to potentially “violate two tenets of laws requiring nonprofits to avoid political campaign work.”[ccxli]

Brennan and Mary Jo Dean launch the Great Homeschool Conventions, a national, for-profit homeschool conference company[ccxlii] that they describe as “a conservative organization and avowedly ‘young-earth.’”[ccxliii]


Former students of IBLP and ATI launch Recovering Grace, “an online organization devoted to helping people whose lives have been impacted by the teachings of Bill Gothard, the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), and the Advanced Training Institute (ATI).”[ccxliv]

The Association of Home School Attorneys ceases operations.[ccxlv]

Brennan Dean’s Great Homeschool Conventions company withdraws their invitation to Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, who was to speak at four of their upcoming conventions. The invitation withdrawal is due to Ham publically criticizing another one of GHC’s speakers.[ccxlvi]

Buddhist homeschooling parent Tammy Takahashi writes Zenschooling: Living a Fabulous & Fulfilling Life Without School, a book about weaving together Buddhist teachings and the homeschooling experience.


CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° features Michael Farris as a leading opponent of U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.[ccxlvii] Due to the efforts of HSLDA members and others, the Convention’s ratification fails.[ccxlviii]

David Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies is voted “the least credible history book in print” by the History News Network.[ccxlix] The book’s publisher, Thomas Nelson, ceases publication because “basic truths just were not there.”[ccl]

A group of international scholars (including Milton Gaither and Robert Kunzman) found the International Center for Home Education Research. They contrast themselves with Brian Ray’s HSLDA-affiliated NHERI by saying, “We are not an advocacy group.”[ccli]

The Liberated Minds Black Homeschool and Education Expo is founded “for the strong purpose of providing quality culturally based resources, educational training, and support to Black/Afrikan homeschooling & non-homeschooling parents as well as educators.”[cclii]

Muslim homeschooling mothers in Southern California join together and form the non-profit organization Muslim Homeschool Network. The Network exists “to support Muslim homeschoolers on a larger scale in areas such as Islamic, educational, social, and parent growth, and at the same time outreach to the larger Muslim community and increase awareness and education on homeschooling.”[ccliii]

In 2012, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° features Michael Farris as a leading opponent of U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


Homeschool alumni launch Homeschoolers Anonymous “to bring awareness to, and healing from, different forms of abuse in extreme homeschooling subcultures.”[ccliv]

Gay rights advocate and sex advice columnist Dan Savage recommends homeschooling in cases of gay kids being bullied.[cclv]

The National Home Education Network, intended as an inclusive, interfaith alternative to HSLDA, disbands.

David C. Gibbs III separates Homeschool Legal Advantage from his father’s Christian Law Association and re-launches it[cclvi] as the National Center for Life and Liberty (NCLL)’s Center for Homeschool Liberty.[cclvii] The Center intends to compete with HSLDA as “a fresh approach to homeschooling legal help.”[cclviii] NCLL’s Center for Homeschool Liberty is, like HSLDA, explicitly Christian.[cclix]

Brett Harris partially apologizes via The Rebelution for his and Alex’s “Modesty Survey.” Brett says they sent “the message that modesty is a female issue and lust is a male issue.”[cclx] (The Modesty Survey is later pulled offline a year later in Fall 2014.)

In October, Doug Phillips resigns as president of Vision Forum Ministries and discontinues future speaking engagements. Phillips claims “a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman” led to these actions.[cclxi]

In November, the board of Vision Forum Ministries declares the organization is closing.[cclxii]

Homeschool alumni create the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), “the first-ever non-profit public policy organization to advocate on behalf of the interests of homeschooled children.”[cclxiii]

NHERI’s Brian Ray and Generations with Vision’s Kevin Swanson announce the Gen2 Survey, allegedly “the largest Christian study ever conducted on the Millennial generation.”[cclxiv] While claiming to be notable in its survey of homeschool alumni, it is criticized for “severe limitations”: “it is a non-random sample that strongly attracted similar-minded homeschoolers.”[cclxv]


Homeschoolers Anonymous incorporates as a non-profit organization, Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO). HARO’s mission is “to advocate for the wellbeing of homeschool students and improve homeschooling communities through awareness, peer support, and resource development.”[cclxvi]

HARO announces the 2014 Survey of Adult Alumni of the Modern Christian Homeschool Movement, the first-ever survey of its breadth to be conducted by alumni for alumni.[cclxvii] Brian Ray criticizes it for “tell[ing] the public very little about adults in general who were home educated”[cclxviii] and Milton Gaither criticizes its method of distribution.[cclxix] Shawn Mathis, however, praises it in comparison to the Brian Ray and Kevin Swanson’s Gen2 Survey, saying, “The substantial amount of data offered by the HARO study renders this study a more transparent and interesting read about homeschoolers.”[cclxx]

In February, Patrick Henry College is rocked with allegations that the college administration mishandled numerous cases of campus sexual assault.[cclxxi]

In February, the Institute in Basic Life Principles places Bill Gothard on administrative leave “while the board investigates claims that he years ago engaged in sexual harassment and other misconduct.”[cclxxii]

In February, Scott Brown’s National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC), which was originally part of Vision Forum Ministries, launches an intern program using the exact same material from Vision Forum Ministries’ intern program.[cclxxiii]

In March, Bill Gothard resigns from the Institute in Basic Life Principles and its affiliated organizations in the wake of the sexual harassment and molestation accusations against him.[cclxxiv]

Cynthia Jeub, child of nationally renowned Christian homeschool speech and debate coach Chris Jeub, accuses her parents of child abuse.[cclxxv]

In May, Lourdes Torres-Manteufel — the woman with whom Doug Phillips claimed he had “a lengthy, inappropriate relationship” — comes forward with her story and files a lawsuit against Phillips in Kendall County District Court in Texas. The lawsuit alleges Phillips used Torres-Manteufel as “a personal sex object” over a period of five years; Torres describes Phillips’s actions as non-consensual, abusive, and predatory. National Center for Life and Liberty attorney David C. Gibbs III serves as Torres-Manteufel’s attorney.[cclxxvi]

In August, Michael Farris publishes via the HSLDA Home School Court Report a white paper, “A Line in the Sand,” in which he publically condemns the actions of Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips. Farris also states his opposition to the ideologies of legalism and patriarchy.[cclxxvii] Doug Phillips’s wife, Beall Phillips, issues a public and emotional retort.[cclxxviii]

In October, Paul and Gena Suarez, publishers of the popular homeschool magazine The Old Schoolhouse, are accused of both physical and sexual child abuse as well as protecting known child predators. Homeschool leaders also accused of covering up or ignorance the Old Schoolhouse abuse situation include: Michael Smith from HSLDA, Heidi St. John from the Busy Mom, Brennan Dean from the Great Homeschool Conventions, and David C. Gibbs III from NCLL.[cclxxix]

Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE) publishes a scathing report on how Bob Jones University responded to campus sexual assault cases. GRACE’s report finds that the University “urged sexual abuse victims not to go to the police and counseled them to repent for the blame it said they share” for decades.[cclxxx]

In November, Doug Phillips is publicly excommunicated today from his former church, Boerne Christian Assembly.[cclxxxi]

Unschooling United disbands.

Ben Hewitt breathes new life into the unschooling movement with his book Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World. In an NPR interview, Hewitt declares that, “Unschooling isn’t merely an educational choice. It’s a lifestyle choice.”[cclxxxii]

Ben Hewitt breathes new life into the unschooling movement with his book Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World.
Ben Hewitt breathes new life into the unschooling movement with his book Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World.


Homeschool alumna Alecia Pennington’s story of identification abuse goes viral.[cclxxxiii]

The number of African American homeschoolers reaches 220,000,[cclxxxiv] making up about 10 percent of all homeschooled children.[cclxxxv]

Scott Brown’s National Center for Family Integrated Churches issues A Declaration on the Complementary Roles of Church & Family. Most notable in the declaration is the allegation that sending children to Sunday School or public school are sins necessitating repentance.[cclxxxvi]

The shocking, grisly deaths of Stoni and Stephen Blair — 2 homeschooled children whose bodies were discovered in a freezer — inspire Michigan Representative Stephanie Chang to propose a bill requiring annual notification and homeschooled children to have contact with mandatory reporters twice a year.[cclxxxvii] HSLDA opposes the bill;[cclxxxviii] CRHE supports it.[cclxxxix]

Lourdes Torres-Manteufel’s lawsuit against Doug Phillips is expanded to include former Vision Forum board directors Don Hart, Scott Brown, and James Zes. Torres-Manteufel’s lawyer David C. Gibbs III says, “Trial is set for March of 2016.”[ccxc]


[i] Coalition for Responsible Home Education, “A History of Homeschooling in Indiana,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ii] Milton Gaither, Homeschool: An American History, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, p. 83-4.

[iii] Chicago Tribune, “Woman Gives Up Savings to Aid 2 Adventists,” May 8, 1949.

[iv] Supreme Court of Illinois , The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, v. MARJORIE LEVISEN et al., January 18, 1950.

[v] Ibid, p. 128.

[vi] Gary North, “R. J. Rushdoony, R.I.P.,”, February 10, 2001, link, accessed on April 29, 2015.

[vii] Institute in Basic Life Principles, “IBLP History,” link, accessed on April 29, 2015.

[viii] Gaither, 2008, p. 107: “The 1962 and 1963 Supreme Court decisions outlawing organized school prayer and school-sponsored Bible reading shocked and devastated many conservatives. Coming on the heels of the Court’s desegregation decisions, many conservative Protestants were simply appalled. Alabama Representative George Andrews spoke for many when he said on national television that the Supreme Court had ‘put the Negroes in the schools—now they put God out of the schools.’ With minorities in and God out, many conservative Protestants left.”

[ix] HSLDA, “The Passing of a Pioneer,” Home School Court Report, September/October 2007, link, accessed on April 29, 2015.

[x] Gary North says, “This book became the academic touchstone for leaders of the independent (non-parochial) Christian school movement, which was just beginning to accelerate in 1963. It provided them with both the theological foundation and the historical ammunition for making their case against compulsory, tax-funded education.” See Gary North, “R. J. Rushdoony, R.I.P.,”, February 10, 2001, link, accessed on April 29, 2015. William Edgar also credits this book as early inspiration for homeschooling: “Many have credited Rushdoony with being an early inspiration behind the home school movement. He certainly was the strongest possible advocate of religious education, consistently favoring private over public schooling. In The Messianic Character of American Education (1963) Rushdoony decried the American public school system, tracing its ideology back to John Dewey and other secular thinkers who believed in the natural goodness of children and the role that education could play in liberalizing society.” See William Edgar, “The Passing of R.J. Rushdoony,” First Things, August 2001, link, accessed on April 29, 2015. Furthermore, Joseph McAuliffe says, ”One of his early books, The Messianic Character of American Education, was a major influence in the fledgling home school movement in California. During the 1960s, Rushdoony was called upon in court cases as an expert historian on home schooling as a legitimate alternative to public education.” See Joseph McAuliffe, “An Interview with R.J. Rushdoony,” The Second American Revolution, link, accessed on April 29, 2015.

[xi] Pat Farenga, “John Holt and the Origins of Contemporary Homeschooling,” PATHS OF LEARNING: Options for Families and Communities, May, October, and January Catalog Number 4004, 1999, reprinted by the Massachusetts Home Learning Association, link, accessed on April 29, 2015.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Edgar, 2001.

[xiv] Institute in Basic Life Principles, “IBLP History.”

[xv] North, 2001.

[xvi] Chalcedon Foundation, “Our Ministry,” link, accessed on April 29, 2015: “Chalcedon’s activities include foundational and leadership roles in Christian reconstruction. Our emphasis on the Cultural or Dominion Mandate (Genesis 1:28) and the necessity of a return to Biblical Law has been a crucial factor in the challenge to Humanism by Christians in this country and elsewhere. Chalcedon’s involvement in and commitment to Christian education began with its inception when founder Rousas John Rushdoony pinpointed the Christian and home schools as the most important institutions in reversing the influence of secular Humanism.”

[xvii] Lee Duigon, Chalcedon Foundation, “Why You Should Homeschool Your Christian Child, Part IV: Ten Reasons Why You Should Homeschool Your Child,” August 8, 2006, link, accessed on April 29, 2015.

[xviii] State v. Massa, Superior Court of New Jersey, Morris County Court, Law Division, June 1, 1967, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[xix] Ibid.

[xx] Coalition for Responsible Home Education, “A History of Homeschooling in Iowa,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[xxi] Wayne S. Walker, “The History of Homeschooling,” HOMESCHOOL EDUCATORS ON ACTIVE DUTY, SENDING UPWARD PRAISES, Volume 8, Number 4, November 2005: “One man who was one of the earliest to build upon that foundation by calling for Bible believers to take their children out of the public schools and homeschool them if necessary was the late Dr. Paul Lindstrom, a fundamentalist Protestant minister with the Church of Christian Liberty in Prospect Heights (now located in Arlington Heights), IL. He founded the Christian Liberty Academy, a church-related day school in 1968 as a result of dissatisfaction with government schools. Around 1970, from this was developed a homeschool curriculum known as CLASS (Christian Liberty Academy Satellite Schools, now Christian Liberty Academy School System). Many of the early seminal court decisions which helped to win the right to homeschool, such as the 1979 Nobel case in Michigan, the 1982-1985 Budke case in Minnesota, and the famous 1993 DeJonge case also in Michigan all involved homeschoolers who were affiliated with CLASS.”

[xxii] Institute for Creation Research, “Who We Are,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[xxiii] Farenga, 1999: “Holt studied and corresponded with Illich at length, and was deeply influenced by Illich’s analysis, particularly with his analysis that school serves a deep social function by firmly maintaining the status quo of social class for the majority of students.”

[xxiv] Kathryn Joyce, “Wifely Submission and Christian Warfare,” Religion Dispatches, March 25, 2009, link, accessed on April 29, 2015.

[xxv] Raymond S. Moore, Dennis R. Moore, “The dangers of early schooling,” Harper’s Magazine, July 1972,

[xxvi] Raymond S. Moore, Dennis R. Moore, “When Should Your Child Go To School?” Reader’s Digest, Vol. 101, No. 606, October 1972, p. 143-147.

[xxvii] Michael Smith, “Honoring Moore’s achievements,” Washington Times, August 20, 2007, link, accessed on April 29, 2015.

[xxviii] Ibid.

[xxix] Wisconsin v. Yoder, May 15, 1972, published by the Legal Information Institute, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[xxx] Coalition for Responsible Home Education, “A History of Homeschooling in Colorado,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[xxxi] Gaither, 2008, p. 117.

[xxxii] North, 2001.

[xxxiii] Farenga, 1999: “One tactic Holt wrote about was to fight for children’s rights — which he thought would not only help kids escape bad schools, but also help them escape bad social situations — by granting children the full protection and responsibilities of US citizenship. Holt’s Escape from Childhood: The Needs and Rights of Children (1974) continues to stir passions on both sides of the argument, particularly now that some of the scenarios Holt discusses, such as giving children the right to choose their own legal guardian, the right to control their own learning, and the right to legal and financial responsibility, have come into our courts twenty- five years later.”

[xxxiv] Institute in Basic Life Principles, “IBLP History.”

[xxxv] Darla Isackson, “Joyce Kinmont, Homeschooling Pioneer,” Meridian Magazine, October 6, 2005, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[xxxvi] Susan Saiter, “The Learning Society; Schooling in the Home: A Growing Alternative,” New York Times, April 14, 1985, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[xxxvii] Coalition for Responsible Home Education, “A History of Homeschooling in Virginia,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[xxxviii] Farenga, 1999: “Holt proposed removing children from school legally or as an act of civil disobedience. While the education establishment barely recognized this particular book of Holt’s, it struck a chord with some parents. Some wrote to Holt explaining that they were teaching their children at home legally, others that they were doing so underground. Some were rural families, some city dwellers, others were in communes. Intrigued, Holt corresponded with them all and decided to create a newsletter that would help put these like-minded people in touch with one another.”

[xxxix] Walker, 2005.

[xl] Farenga, 1999.

[xli] Scott W. Somerville, “The Politics of Survival: Home Schoolers and the Law,” HSLDA, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[xlii] Pat Farenga, “What is Unschooling?”,, 2013, link, accessed on April 29, 2015.

[xliii] Manfred Smith as interviewed by Michelle C., “An Interview with Homeschooling Pioneer Manfred Smith,” The Atlasphere, December 5, 2004, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[xliv] Joyce, 2009.

[xlv] Gaither, 2008, p. 118-9.

[xlvi] Ibid, p. 119-20.

[xlvii] Coalition for Responsible Home Education, “A History of Homeschooling in Iowa,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[xlviii] Time Magazine, “Teaching Children at Home,” December 4, 1978, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[xlix] Gaither, 2008, p. 126.

[l] NBC Universal Archives, “TODAY SHOW OF 6-18-79 (ADDITIONAL STORIES),” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[li] Gaither, 2008, p. 126-7.

[lii] Recovering Grace, “The GOTHARD Files: The Scandal, 1980,” February 20, 2014, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[liii] Walker, 2005.

[liv] The Spokesman-Review, “Farris now is lobbyist in capital,” January 3, 1985.

[lv] Clonlara School, “Mission & History,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[lvi] Mitchell Stevens, Kingdom of Children: Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement, Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 49.

[lvii] Somerville, “Politics of Survival”: “She formed the Home Based Education Program at the Clonlara School in Michigan. Michigan law, at that time, required every child to be taught by a certified teacher, but the law did not specify how much time that teacher had to spend with each child. Clonlara made it possible to comply with the letter of the law while keeping the spirit of unschooling.”

[lviii] Manfred Smith, “A Lifelong Journey: Twenty Years of Homeschooling,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[lix] Libby Anne, “Bill Gothard: When People Know . . . and Do Nothing,” Love Joy Feminism, February 13, 2014, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[lx] Recovering Grace, 2014.

[lxi] The Teaching Home, “Our Purpose,” link, accessed on April 29, 2015.

[lxii] State v. Popanz, 1983, published by Justia, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[lxiii] Seton Home Study School, “Our Story,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[lxiv] John Clifford Green, Mark J. Rozell, Clyde Wilcox, The Christian Right in American Politics: Marching to the Millennium, Georgetown University Press, 2003, p. 238.

[lxv] Spokane Daily Chronicle, “Moral Majority chief, Timothy Leary debate,” April 16, 1981, p. 7.

[lxvi] Duigon, 2006.

[lxvii] Paul Maltby, Christian Fundamentalism and the Culture of Disenchantment, University of Virginia Press, 2013, p. 1992.

[lxviii] John Sugg, “A Nation Under God,” Mother Jones, December 2005, link, accessed on April 29, 2015: “The Council for National Policy—a group that holds meetings for right-wing leaders, once dubbed ‘the most powerful conservative group you’ve never heard of’—was founded in 1981 as a project of top John Birch Society figures (see ‘The Fountainhead’). Its members included Rushdoony, Gary North, Tim LaHaye, former Reagan aide Gary Bauer, and activist Paul Weyrich, who famously aimed to ‘overturn the present power structure of this country.’”

[lxix] Isackson, 2005.

[lxx] Coalition for Responsible for Home Education, “A History of Homeschooling in New Hampshire,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[lxxi] Vicki Farris, Jayme Farris Metzgar, A Mom Just Like You, B&H Publishing Group, 2002, p. 68.

[lxxii] Zan Tyler, “Along the Way: The curtain rises on HSLDA,” Home School Court Report, January/February 2003, link, accessed on April 29, 2015.

[lxxiii] Smith, 2007.

[lxxiv] Tyler, 2003.

[lxxv] Three examples: (1) Susan Beatty, founder of CHEA of California, “God’s Homeschooling Tapestry: A Memoir,” The California Parent Educator, Summer 2007: “I turned on the radio. This simple act changed the course of my life and my family’s life. It was also one slender thread in the tapestry of history that God was weaving. It was February 1982. The program was Dr. James Dobson’s ‘Focus on the Family,’ and the subject was early childhood education. Dr. Raymond Moore, author of Better Late Than Early and School Can Wait, was describing a typical third grade child who, because he’d been attending formal education from age two or three, was suffering from educational burnout. Dr. Moore was describing my first grade son. Resonating in my heart and head, the idea of keeping children out of formal education until their minds and bodies were mature enough to handle it, took hold of me as I shared it with my husband and as I read Dr. Moore’s books. But this was only the beginning.” (2) Beth Wolsey and Marcia Mantel, co-founders of CHEO, “CHESCA History,” link, accessed on April 29, 2015: “Beth Wolsey and Marcia Mantel, co-founders of CHESCA and the state organization, CHEO, did not know one another when the year of 1983 dawned; but the Lord had already set them on a course that would change their lives, and ours, forever. The prayers of three women asking for direction about an organization to support families interested in home educating were to be answered in God’s perfect timing. Beth, a college-trained teacher, and Marcia, already quietly home educating two children, both heard Dr. Raymond Moore on a ‘Focus on the Family’ radio broadcast. He espoused his ‘better late than early’ beliefs, and a Gregg Harris homeschooling workshop was announced that was to be held in Wooster in the fall of 1982. Both Marcia and Beth attended the workshop.” (3) Mary Pride, founder of Practical Homeschooling, “What’s Our Next Step? The Future of Homeschooling,” Practical Homeschooling, Number 50, 2003: “That famous radio interview catapulted homeschooling into the Christian mainstream. Prior to that time, homeschooling had been growing quietly behind the scenes, as parents from all parts of the political and religious spectrum had become increasingly concerned about their children’s future in both the public and private school systems.”

[lxxvi] Tyler, 2003: “By 1982, Mike Farris had already developed a regional reputation both as a political activist and as a Christian lawyer engaged in fairly high-profile constitutional cases. Mike Farris’ work took him to Sacramento, California, where he met Mike Smith for the first time. Mike [Farris] explained to Mike [Smith] his idea of starting a legal defense association for homeschooling families. His idea embraced the notion that if the education establishment attacked one homeschooling family, the whole homeschooling community would effectively come to their defense…In March of 1983, Mike and Vickie Farris and Mike and Elizabeth Smith became the founding board members of Home School Legal Defense Association.”

[lxxvii] Tyler, 2003.

[lxxviii] Michael Farris, The Joshua Generation: Restoring the Heritage of Christian Leadership, B&H Publishing Group, 2005, p. 102.

[lxxix] Home Education Magazine, “About Us: History,” link, accessed on April 29, 2015.

[lxxx], home page, accessed on April 29, 2015: “Since 1984, Cathy Duffy has been reviewing curriculum for the homeschool community.”

[lxxxi], “For the Children’s Sake,” updated 2009, link, accessed on April 29, 2015.

[lxxxii] Patrick Farenga, “Homeschooling: Main theories, theorists, and methods,” Encyclopedia Brittanica, link, accessed on April 29, 2015.

[lxxxiii] Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, “Home Schooling in Wisconsin,” August 24, 2000, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[lxxxiv] Manfred Smith, “A Lifelong Journey: Twenty Years of Homeschooling.”

[lxxxv] Coalition on Revival, “History of COR,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[lxxxvi] Coalition on Revival, “National COR Steering Committee,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[lxxxvii] Russell Chandler, “Religious Right Makes Political Arena Its Major Battleground,” Los Angeles Times, March 29, 1986, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[lxxxviii] Institute in Basic Life Principles, “Wisdom Booklets,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “A group of educators, ministers, scientists, historians, and engineers worked under the direction of Bill Gothard, Dr. Larry Guthrie, and Inge Cannon to develop this curriculum, which comprises over 3,000 pages in 54 Wisdom Booklets.”

[lxxxix] Institute in Basic Life Principles, “Educational Programs: Advanced Training Institute International,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[xc] HSLDA, “Marking the Milestones: 1983-1998,” 1998, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[xci] Coalition for Responsible Home Education, “A History of Homeschooling in North Carolina,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[xcii] Tyler, 2003.

[xciii] Farenga, 1999: “In 1985, John Holt died of cancer at the age of 62.”

[xciv] Mark Oppenheimer, “Son of Evangelical Royalty Turns His Back, and Tells the Tale,” New York Times, August 19, 2011, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “’I had been home-schooled,’ Mr. Schaeffer told me. ‘I had no education, no qualifications, and I was groomed to do this stuff. What was I going to do? If two lines are forming, and one has a $10,000 honorarium to go to a Christian Booksellers Association conference and keynote, and the other is to consider your doubts and get out with nothing else to do, what are you going to do?’”

[xcv] Oppenheimer, 2011: “As a literary agent, he discovered Mary Pride, the Christian home-schooling guru.”

[xcvi] Mark Oppenheimer, “A Christian Pioneer of Home Schooling Looks to Its Future,” New York Times, January 18, 2013, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[xcvii] Hopewell, “Midwife at the Birth of Quiverfull,” No Longer Quivering, June 2, 2011, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “Way back in the Day, when he was still styled ‘Franky Schaeffer’ (to distinguish him from from his same-named father), Frank was literary agent to a new Christian author named Mary Pride. With the Schaeffer name attached, Pride’s book was a shoe-in. Today we know her, and her (in)famous book, The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality as the Spiritual Mother of the Quiverfull Movement. Frank(y) then, was her midwife.”

[xcviii] Isabel Lyman, “Homeschooling: Back to the Future?”, Cato Institute, Policy Analysis No. 294, January 7, 1998, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[xcix] Farenga, 1999.

[c] Lyman, 1998: “In the 1970s the countercultural left, who responded more strongly to Holt’s cri de coeur, comprised the bulk of homeschooling families. By the mid-1980s, however, the religious right would be the most dominant group to choose homeschooling and would change the nature of homeschooling from a crusade against ‘the establishment’ to a crusade against the secular forces of modern-day society.”

[ci] Texas Home School Coalition, “THSC History,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cii] Tyler, 2003.

[ciii] Mark J. Rozell, Clyde Wilcox, Second Coming: The New Christian Right in Virginia Politics, John Hopkins University Press, 1996, p. 103-4: “Farris’s name appears among ninety-seven Christian intellectuals who signed the Coalition for Revival’s 1986 ‘manifesto’ which declares, ‘We believe America can be turned around and once again function as a Christian nation as it did in it’s earlier years.’ The document lists Farris and Virginia C. Armstrong as co-authors of the section entitled ‘The Christian World View of the Law,’ which states, ‘We affirm that a society must inevitably choose between conflicting legal foundations and views of law and should choose Christian views and a Christian foundation because the Christian system is vastly superior to all alternatives.’ Farris denies ever signing the document or co-writing the section on a Christian view of the law although Armstrong recalls that she and Farris wrote different parts of the section and ‘he certainly seemed to be in general agreement’ of the finished version.”

[civ] Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, “All About Reading and All About Spelling Ranked #1 by Practical Homeschooling Readers,” April 7, 2014, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cv] Tyler, 2003.

[cvi] Michael Smith, “Evaluating Success,” Home School Court Report, May/June 2009, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cvii] Institute in Basic Life Principles, “IBLP History.”

[cviii] People for the American Way, “WallBuilders,” Right Wing Watch, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cix] WallBuilders, “Overview,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cx] Linda Dobson, “News Watch Special Report,” Home Education Magazine, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cxi] National Home Education Research Institute, “About NHERI,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cxii] HSLDA, “Marking the Milestones.”

[cxiii] LDS Home Educators Association, “About,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cxiv] Christian Home Educators of Colorado, “History,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cxv] HSLDA Home School Court Report, “Meet NCHE’s Association Director,” March/April 1991, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cxvi] Edgar, 2001.

[cxvii] Dobson, “News Watch Special Report.”

[cxviii] Christopher J. Klicka, The Right to Home School: A Guide to the Law on Parents’ Rights in Education, Carolina Academic Press, 1995, p. 26.

[cxix] HSLDA Canada, “Our History,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cxx] HSLDA Home School Court Report, “New HSLDA Staff,” September/October 1991, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cxxi] Ibid.

[cxxii] Cathy Duffy, “Review Of: The Teenage Liberation Handbook,”, 2009, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cxxiii] Rachel Coleman, “How Have Scholars Divided Homeschoolers into Groups?”, Politics of Childhood, May 22, 2013, link, accessed on May 1, 2015: “In her 1991 article ‘Ideologues and Pedagogues: Parents Who Teach Their Children at Home,’ Jane Van Galen, a sociologist, argued that homeschooling parents were divided into two camps, which she called ‘ideologues’ and ‘pedagogues.’ According to Van Galen, the ideologues, which comprise the larger group, were Christian fundamentalists who objected to what they believed the public schools were teaching and wanted to instill their conservative political and religious beliefs in their children. Pedagogues, in contrast, homeschooled because they believed that children learned more naturally apart from formal schooling, which they believed stifled children’s innate curiosity and creativity.”

[cxxiv] Mary Pride, “What’s Our Next Step? The Future of Homeschooling,” Practical Homeschooling, Number 50, 2003, link, accessed on April 30, 2015:

[cxxv] David Albert, “The Success of Public Education,” Home Education Magazine, March/April 2002, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cxxvi] Mary Pride, “Interview with John Taylor Gatto,” Practical Homeschooling, Number 37, 2000, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cxxvii] John Clifford Green, Mark J. Rozell, Clyde Wilcox, Prayers in the Precincts: The Christian Right in the 1998 Elections, Georgetown University Press, 2000, p. 82: “In 1993 it was the Christian home-schoolers that dominated Republican politics. The 1993 convention nominated Michael Farris for lieutenant governor…Farris won the nomination easily against a pro-choice moderate woman and longtime GOP activist, Bobbie Kilberg…Farris, however, lost, running an extraordinary twelve percentage points behind the top of his ticket. Don Beyer, his Democratic opponent, characterized Farris as a Christian Right extremist who would ban books from public schools and whose ideas were dangerously out of the mainstream. Farris was a prolific writer and public speaker, and a number of passages from his writings and published statements gave Beyer ample and credible ammunition.”

[cxxviii] Oppenheimer, 2013.

[cxxix] HSLDA Home School Court Report, “Announcing the Congressional Action Program,” January/February 1993, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cxxx] HSLDA Home School Court Report, “Religious Freedom Restored: President Clinton Signs RFRA Into Law,” November/December 1993, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cxxxi] People for the American Way, “Madison Project,” Right Wing Watch, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cxxxii] Madison Project, “14 in 2014,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cxxxiii] Center for Responsible Politics, “Madison Project: 2014 PAC Summary Data,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cxxxiv] Erika Niedowski, “A Bundle From Virginia,” CNN, January 17, 1998, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cxxxv] Tim Challies, “The Bestsellers: I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” Christian Post, March 30, 2014, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “Beginning in 1994, he began publishing New Attitude, a magazine targeted at fellow homeschoolers, and one that quickly gained a substantial readership. He was now the second generation of Harris’s to make a mark in homeschool circles.”

[cxxxvi] Walker, 2005: “In the 1970’s and 1980’s, it seems as if homeschoolers from both of these wings of the movement generally presented a united front to support homeschooling freedoms. However, an underlying tension between the two groups has always been present and in more recent years a lot of public disagreement has been noted, especially after the H. R. 6 incident in 1994.”

[cxxxvii] HSLDA Home School Court Report, “The Anatomy of a Victory,” May/June 1994, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cxxxviii] Home Education Magazine, “HSLDA touting Raymond Moore?”, August 23, 2007, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “One of the lesser-known items authored by Dr. Moore was a white paper he wrote in October of 1994, The Ravage of Home Education Through Exclusion By Religion. Part of the white paper is about the nationwide alarm HSLDA set off in early 1994. The alarm was to stop the danger that only HSLDA saw from an amendment to the House portion of the then-Congressional bill H. R. 6, a $12 billion reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).”

[cxxxix] Raymond S. Moore, “The Ravage of Home Education Through Exclusion By Religion,” October 1994, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cxl] Larry and Susan Kaseman, “HR 6 and the Federalization of Homeschooling,” Home Education Magazine, 1994, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “HSLDA was unwilling simply to have the Miller amendment removed from H. R. 6. Instead it worked for and was clearly pleased with the Armey amendment that is increasing the risk of federalization of homeschooling. Homeschoolers have worked out agreements in all 50 states and in over 15,000 school districts as to how they will homeschool, agreements that are now working well in most cases (of course, there will always be a few problems, and in some cases the agreements include non-compliance or civil disobedience). But by supporting the Armey amendment, HSLDA appears willing to exchange these carefully worked out agreements for one federal statute that could disrupt these agreements and give the federal government power over homeschools that it does not now have.”

[cxli] HSLDA, “Marking the Milestones: 1994,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “In response to an alert from HSLDA, home schoolers from around the nation bombarded their senators’ offices with phone calls and letters opposing the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the 1994 Lobbying Disclosure Act. Following widespread public opposition, the Lobbying Disclosure Act was defeated and the Convention was put on hold for the rest of the 103rd congressional session.”

[cxlii] Dobson, “News Watch Special Report.”

[cxliii] Ken Ham, “The History of Answers in Genesis through February 2015,” Answers in Genesis, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cxliv] Lyman, 1998.

[cxlv] Christopher J. Klicka, The Right Choice: Home Schooling, Noble Publishing Associates, 1995, p. 112-3, 181, 188, 422.

[cxlvi] R.L. Stollar, “Oak Brook College of Law Distances Itself from Bill Gothard and IBLP,” Homeschoolers Anonymous, February 20, 2014, link, accessed on May 1, 2015: “When OBCL was launched in 1995, it was done so as a joint effort between Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute (ATI) and HSLDA stakeholders. Bill Gothard served as the law school’s Chancellor, Michael Farris served on the Board of Trustees, and former HSLDA director and staff attorney Jordan Lorence served as the school’s Constitutional Law Professor as well as Chairman of Oak Brook’s Board of Advisors.”

[cxlvii] Practical Homeschooling, “Law School for Homeschoolers,” Number 15, 1997, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cxlviii] Sarah Posner, “Secret Society,” Alternet, February 28, 2005, link, accessed on April 29, 2015: “CNP’s tentacles also reach into a community of well-connected activists who advocate for the imposition of fundamentalist Christian ideology in public life and have succeeded in forcing their agenda in the Bush administration. Besides the well-known affiliation of Dobson and Hodel, just one example is the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has paid CNP dues so that Michael Farris, its executive director, could attend the meetings.” The years of HSLDA’s membership are listed as 1996, 1998, and 1999 at “THE COUNCIL FOR NATIONAL POLICY: Past/Present Officers & Prominent Member Profiles,” link, accessed on April 29, 2015: “Michael P. Farris – CNP Membership Directory (1996, 1998, 1999).”

[cxlix] Michael Farris, “Using debate to learn valuable skills,” Home School Heartbeat, Volume 41, Program 3, December 10, 2002, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cl] TeenPact, “History, Vision, and Mission,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cli] Lyman, 1998.

[clii] Not Back to School Camp, “Essential Information,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cliii] Alliance for the Separation of School and State, “History of the Alexis de Tocqueville Award,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cliv] Lyman, 1998.

[clv] Practical Homeschooling, “Rebecca Sealfon Knows How To Spell ‘Success’: Interview with Rebecca Sealfon, homeschool student and winner of the 1997 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee,” Number 19, 1997, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[clvi] Libby Anne, “What I Learned from Joshua Harris,” Love Joy Feminism, October 25, 2012, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[clvii] Home Education Information Resource, “Jury Finds Teaching Home Editor Conspired to Restrain Trade: Defendants Gregg Harris, Mary Pride, Sue Welch Settled,” July 3, 1999, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[clviii] Dobson, “News Watch Special Report”: “Four defendants with varying degrees of memory lapses will testify to Michael Farris’ involvement and/or reveal telephone notes indicating involvement in the preparation of the letter of discipline.”

[clix] HSLDA Home School Court Report, “First Annual National Home School Debate Tournament: October 3-4, 1997,” November/December 1997, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[clx] The Institute for Cultural Communicators, “The Mission of the Institute for Cultural Communicators,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[clxi] HSLDA Home School Court Report, “NEW HAMPSHIRE: Homeschoolers Block Bad Legislation,” July/August 1997, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[clxii] Doug Phillips, “Vision Forum’s Quest for Family Renewal,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[clxiii] Shay Seaborne, “The Truth About Sheryl,” Home Education Magazine, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[clxiv] Home Education Information Resource, 1999.

[clxv] Lyman, 1998.

[clxvi], “About Mary Griffith,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[clxvii] Christian Home Educators of Colorado.

[clxviii] Andrea Billups, “GOP rivals all praise their efforts and urge an era of responsibility,” Washington Times, September 25, 1999, republished by HSLDA, link, accessed on April 30, 2014.

[clxix] HSLDA Home School Court Report, “Teach Them to Dream Big Dreams: A Look at HSLDA’s Conference at the Capitol,” November/December 1999, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “The resolution was initiated by the Missouri Home Educators Association and drafted by the National Center for Home Education.”

[clxx] E-mail letter from Michael Farris to John Holzmann, December 21, 1999, published by, “Does HSLDA Mix Causes?”, link, accessed on April 29, 2015: “We [HSLDA] pay dues to the Council for National Policy so that I may attend the meetings.”

[clxxi] Helen Cordes, “Battling for the heart and soul of home-schoolers,” Salon, October 2, 2000, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “Frustrated home-schoolers have in the past several months decided to fight fire with fire, launching a new national inclusive group called the National Home Education Network, which will focus only on home-schooling issues and resources.”

[clxxii] National Home Education Network, “About NHEN,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[clxxiii] National Home Education Network, home page, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[clxxiv] National Home Education Network, “NHEN Board of Trustees,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[clxxv] National Home Education Network, “NHEN Regional Contacts,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[clxxvi] Texas Home School Coalition, “THSC History.”

[clxxvii] Cordes, 2000: “In Texas, which boasts the highest number of home-schooled kids at 150,000, a state home-school lobbying organization will debut in November, representing home-schoolers disenchanted with the HSLDA Texas affiliate, which is headed by Republican National Committeeman Tim Lambert.”

[clxxviii] Ibid: “John Holzmann is another stalwart Christian who felt the righteous rage of HSLDA when he asked its leaders to respond to issues raised by Seelhoff, the HEM report and many customers of the Christian curriculum publishing firm he co-founded, Sonlight. Sonlight materials had enjoyed great popularity in HSLDA circles and Holzmann offered HSLDA membership discounts to customers. But when Holzmann spoke up, HSLDA struck back. At a meeting with the group’s representatives, Holzmann says he got the bottom line: Don’t ever speak out against HSLDA publicly or you will face HSLDA charges of ‘gossip, slander and failure to observe the requirements of Matthew 18:15-17.’…In January, Holzmann announced that Sonlight would dissociate from HSLDA.”

[clxxix] Sarah Pride, “Patrick Henry College: A College for Homeschoolers (and Others),” Practical Homeschooling, Number 76, 2007, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[clxxx] Cordes, 2000.

[clxxxi] Ibid.

[clxxxii] HSLDA, “HSLDA Attorney Visits Germany, Legal Defense Organization Established,” October 1, 2001, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “In August 2000, German home schoolers asked HSLDA for additional assistance. We provided support and encouragement to them in establishing their own national legal defense association: Schulunterricht zu Hause (School Instruction at Home).”

[clxxxiii] National Black Home Educators, “About Us,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[clxxxiv] HSLDA Home School Court Report, “An Affirmative Plan: National Home School Debate Tournament,” November/December 2000, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “HSLDA has recognized that it is time for a separate organization to take on the support of the national home school speech and debate community. This new organization, the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association (NCFCA), was formed in 2000.”

[clxxxv] Cordes, 2000.

[clxxxvi] Ibid.

[clxxxvii] Linda Conrad, “AHSA Moves to A to Z!”, Association of Home School Attorneys, August 24, 2011, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[clxxxviii] Homeschool World Series Association, “History of the HWSA Organization,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[clxxxix] Milton Gaither, “The FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and Homeschooling,” Homeschooling Research Notes, February 1, 2010, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “In 2000, when much of the Church lived along the Arizona-Utah border near Colorado City, AZ, the Church made headlines when leader Warren Jeffs called for a massive exodus of the Church’s children from the public schools, urging them to be homeschooled using a FLDS curriculum instead.”

[cxc] North, 2001.

[cxci] Milton Gaither, “Home Schooling Goes Mainstream,” Education Next, Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 2009, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cxcii] National Alliance of Christian Home Education Leadership, home page, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cxciii], “National Alliance Of Christian Home Education Leadership Inc in Brooks, Georgia (GA),” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cxciv] Robert Kunzman, Write These Laws on Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling, Beacon Press, 2009, p. 100-1.

[cxcv] Tom Strode, “High court could be poised to overturn sodomy law,” Baptist Press, March 27, 2003, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “Michael Farris, who wrote a brief defending the law, acknowledged he was ‘discouraged.’ While an oral argument ‘doesn’t make or break a case,’ it can provide ammunition for the justices, said Farris, whose friend-of-the-court brief came on behalf of the Center for the Original Intent of the Constitution.”

[cxcvi] Tyler, 2003.

[cxcvii] Smith, 2009.

[cxcviii] Dr. Chelsea McCracken, “Homeschooling Outcomes or Sampling Problems? A Look at Ray 2003,” Coalition for Responsible Home Education, May 8, 2014, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cxcix] National Home Education Legal Defense, “Background,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cc] Gaither, 2009.

[cci] Ibid.

[ccii] National African-American Homeschoolers Alliance, “About,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cciii] Nicholas Ducote, “Home Education Ideologies and Literature: Review, Part 1,” Homeschoolers Anonymous, April 23, 2013, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cciv] Jessica Huseman, “The Rise of Homeschooling Among Black Families,” The Atlantic, February 17, 2015, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ccv] Shannon Espelien, “Interview with Founder of Ad Duha Islamic Studies Curriculum,” Middle Way Mom, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ccvi] Daniel Jackson, “Muslim families turn to home-schooling,” Washington Times, February 21, 2012, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ccvii] Secular Homeschool, “About,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ccviii] Alliance for the Separation of School and State, “History of the Alexis de Tocqueville Award.”

[ccix] Michael Farris, “Questions and Answers Regarding a Constitutional Amendment on Same-Sex Marriage,” HSLDA, April 15, 2004, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccx] Alex and Brett Harris, “Lila Rose: Fighting for the Unborn,” The Rebelution, May 16, 2007, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxi] National LDS Homeschool Association, “Jolene Irving,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxii] Sandra Dodd, “Is there a difference between a Radical Unschooler and just an Unschooler?,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “I think if people divide their lives into academic and non-academic, they’re not radical unschoolers.”

[ccxiii] Lori Arnold, “Popularity of homeschooling rises nationwide, curriculum concerns, safety cited,” Christian Examiner, September 2, 2007, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxiv] Aaron Mesh, “New Kids In The Flock,” Willamette Week, June 18, 2008, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “Gregg told his sons to embark on an ‘intense’ summer reading program ranging from books by New York Times pundit Thomas Friedman to right-wing talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt. The goal: to familiarize the twins with global trends. They say their reading sparked their desire to ‘wake up’ other teenagers, which led them to start the Rebelution blog in 2005. It is a forum for Christian teens to discuss issues from Third World slavery to women’s modesty.”

[ccxv] Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, “Alex and Brett Harris are Doing Hard Things,” The Gospel Coalition, November 5, 2014, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxvi] Mesh, 2008.

[ccxvii] Gaither, 2009.

[ccxviii] Reb Bradley, “Solving the Crisis in Homeschooling: Exposing the 7 major blindspots of homeschoolers,” Family Ministries, 2006, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxix] The Moore Foundation and Academy, “Death of Homeschooling Pioneer Dr. Raymond S. Moore,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “Dr. Raymond S. Moore, author of Better Late than Early, the book that launched the modern homeschooling movement in the United States, passed away on July 13, 2007, at the age of 91.”

[ccxx] HSLDA, “Parental Rights Amendment,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “The grassroots organization,, was established in 2007 to pass this amendment.”

[ccxxi] The Rebelution, “Modesty Survey,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxxii] National Center for Education Statistics, “1.5 Million Homeschooled Students in the United States in 2007,” December 2008, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “In the 2007 NHES, parents also were asked which one of their selected reasons for homeschooling was the most important. The reason reported by the highest percentage of homeschoolers’ parents as being most important was to provide religious or moral instruction.”

[ccxxiii] Arnold, 2007.

[ccxxiv] Sara McGrath, “Concerns about unschooling family on Wife Swap TV show,”, April 15, 2013, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxxv] HSLDA Home School Court Report, “Dr. Brian Ray Receives Award,” January/February 2009, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “First given to Gregg Harris in 2007, this award honors a leader who has demonstrated valuable leadership to the homeschool community, inspired and motivated others to effective action, overcome hardships and obstacles to succeed, demonstrated a servant’s heart while exhibiting the qualities listed above, and maintained a clear witness concerning Jesus Christ and the Gospel.”

[ccxxvi] Ibid.

[ccxxvii] Unschooling United, home page, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxxviii] R.L. Stollar, “A Brief History of Homeschool Speech and Debate,” Homeschoolers Anonymous, July 1, 2013, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxxix] Joyce, 2009.

[ccxxx] Milton Gaither, “Homeschool: An American History,” Homeschooling Research Notes, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxxxi] Gaither, 2010.

[ccxxxii] Carolyn Jessop, Triumph: Life After the Cult–A Survivor’s Lessons, Three Rivers Press, 2011, p. 23: “They did find other children that were being abused, and that, either way, having sex with a sixteen-year-old in the state of Texas is a felony. They found—they found felony cases of child abuse.”

[ccxxxiii] Christian Home Educators of Colorado.

[ccxxxiv] Jim Daly, “Two Tributes to Dr. James Dobson,” Focus on the Family, October 5, 2009, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “On Friday, September 25, 2009 the HSLDA presented Dr. Dobson with its Lifetime Achievement Award during its annual National Leaders Conference here in Colorado Springs.”

[ccxxxv] R.L. Stollar, “End Child Protection: Doug Phillips, HSLDA, and the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit,” Homeschoolers Anonymous, May 14, 2013, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ccxxxvi] HSLDA, “In Memoriam: Christopher J. Klicka,” October 12, 2009, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxxxvii] Homeschool Legal Advantage, “Our History,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ccxxxviii] Homeschool Legal Advantage, “Newly Launched Homeschool Legal Advantage is Experiencing Rapid Growth from Homeschooling Families throughout the United States,” Christian News Wire, November 25, 2009, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ccxxxix] R.L. Stollar, “HSLDA Gave This Man Their Prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award Just 4 Years Ago,” Homeschoolers Anonymous, August 31, 2014, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxl] Kiri Kincell, “HSLDA Leadership Conference 2010,” The Kincell Family, October 12, 2010, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “During [Saturday] evening, the Greg Harris [sic] award (named after it’s first recipient) was awarded to Bill Gothard for his huge contributions to the early homeschooling movement.”

[ccxli] Aaron Gould Sheinin and Margaret Newkirk, “TeenPact kids’ campaign efforts raise questions,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 1, 2010, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxlii] Brennan and Mary Jo Dean, “About,” Great Homeschool Conventions, July 15, 2010, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ccxliii] Sam Blumenfeld, “The Homeschool Convention Season Is On,” The New American, March 26, 2012, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ccxliv] Recovering Grace, “Our Mission,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ccxlv] Conrad, 2011.

[ccxlvi] Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, “Creation Museum Founder Disinvited from Homeschooling Conferences,” Christianity Today, March 25, 2011, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ccxlvii] Anderson Cooper, “Farris: U.N. treaty ‘is a law’,” CNN, December 11, 2012, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxlviii] Michael Smith, “Senate Rejects Ratification of UN Disabilities Treaty,” HSLDA, December 4, 2012, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxlix] Jennifer Schuessler, “And the Worst Book of History Is…”, New York Times, July 16, 2012, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ccl] Elise Hu, “Publisher Pulls Controversial Thomas Jefferson Book, Citing Loss Of Confidence,” NPR, August 9, 2012, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ccli] International Center for Home Education Research, “About ICHER,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclii] Liberated Minds Black Homeschool & Education Expo, “About The Liberated Minds Black Homeschool & Education Expo,” link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccliii] Muslim Homeschool Network, “About MHN,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[ccliv] Homeschoolers Anonymous, “For the media: Former homeschoolers rally against abuse,” March 16, 2013, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclv] Dan Savage, “If Your Gay Kid Is Being Bullied At School And He Begs You To Homeschool Him…,” Portland Mercury, January 29, 2013, link, accessed on April 30, 2015: “Straight parents: If you know your gay kid is being brutalized in his school and you’ve complained and it’s gotten worse, get him the fuck out of there. Homeschool him. Homeschool him and sue the school. Move away. Move someplace more tolerant. Move someplace better.”

[cclvi] Sonlight Curriculum, “Homeschool Legal Advantage is now the Center for Homeschool Liberty,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclvii] National Center for Life and Liberty, home page, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclviii] Center for Homeschool Liberty, home page, National Center for Life and Liberty, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclix] National Center for Life and Liberty, “About National Center for Life and Liberty,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015: “This nonprofit legal ministry—NCLL—will serve to protect and defend the Bible-based values upon which our nation was founded.”

[cclx] Brett Harris, “The Other Side of Modesty,” The Rebelution, June 22, 2013, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclxi] Doug Phillips, “Statement of Resignation,” Vision Forum Ministries, October 30, 2013, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclxii] Vision Forum Ministries Board of Directors, “The Closing of Vision Forum Ministries,” Vision Forum Ministries, November 11, 2013, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclxiii] Coalition for Responsible Home Education, “Homeschool Graduates Launch Nonpartisan Organization to Advocate for the Legal Interests of Homeschooled Children,” December 18, 2013, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclxiv] Gen2 Leadership Conference, “The Vision,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclxv] Shawn Mathis, “A tale of two surveys: the continued polarization of homeschooling,”, March 18, 2015, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclxvi] Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out, “Our Vision and Mission,” link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclxvii] Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out, “Announcing the Results from HARO’s 2014 Survey of Homeschool Alumni,” December 2, 2014, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclxviii] Brian Ray, “A Thorny Survey of Homeschool Graduates,” National Home Education Research Institute, December 11, 2014, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclxix] Milton Gaither, “The HARO 2014 Survey of Homeschool Alumni,” International Center for Home Education Research Reviews, January 1, 2015, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclxx] Mathis, 2015.

[cclxxi] Kiera Feldman, “Sexual Assault at God’s Harvard,” New Republic, February 17, 2014, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclxxii] Warren Cole Smith, “Bill Gothard place on administrative leave,” WORLD Magazine, February 27, 2014, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclxxiii] Julie Anne Smith, “Christian Patriarchy is Alive and Well: NCFIC’s Scott Brown Moves to Fill the Void,” Homeschoolers Anonymous, February 3, 2014, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclxxiv] David Waller, email sent to member families of the Advanced Training Institute, March 6, 2014, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclxxv] Cynthia Jeub, “Melting Memory Masks,”, October 3, 2014, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclxxvi] Chelsea Schilling, “Christian Giant Sued For ‘Using Nanny As Sex Object,” WorldNetDaily, April 15, 2014, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclxxvii] Michael Farris, “A Line in the Sand,” Home School Court Report, August 27, 2014, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclxxviii] R.L. Stollar, “Beall Phillips, Wife of Doug Phillips, Accuses HSLDA’s Michael Farris of ‘Gross Error,’ ‘Bully Pulpit’,” Homeschoolers Anonymous, August 28, 2014, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclxxix] Hännah Ettinger, R.L. Stollar, “When Homeschool Leaders Looked Away: The Old Schoolhouse Cover-Up,” Homeschoolers Anonymous, October 8, 2014, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclxxx] Claire Gordon, “After scathing sex abuse report, Bob Jones calls itself ‘very safe’,” Al Jazeera, December 19, 2014, link, accessed on May 1, 2015.

[cclxxxi] Boerne Christian Assembly, “Update Regarding Doug Phillips,” November 17, 2014, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclxxxii] Audie Cornish, “These Kids Grew Up With The Woods As Their Only Classroom,” NPR, September 4, 2014, link, accessed on April 30, 2014.

[cclxxxiii] Samantha Laine, “Alecia Pennington can’t prove she’s an American – or even exists. What would you do?”, Christian Science Monitor, February 12, 2015, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclxxxiv] Huseman, 2015.

[cclxxxv] Ama Mazama, “Racism in schools is pushing more black families to homeschool their children,” Washington Post, April 10, 2015, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclxxxvi] Shawn Mathis, “Scott Brown’s new family integrated church declaration and why you should care,”, April 22, 2015, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclxxxvii] Gus Burns, “Leaders call for monitoring of home-schooled students after Detroit children found dead in mom’s freezer,” Michigan Live, April 13, 2015, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclxxxviii] HSLDA, “House Bill 4498: Annual Homeschool Notification and Mandatory Reporter Visits,” April 22, 2015, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[cclxxxix] Coalition for Responsible Home Education, “Statement Supporting Stoni Blair and Stephen Berry and Michigan’s HB 4498,” April 21, 2015, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

[ccxc] David C. Gibbs III as quoted by Julie Anne Smith, “Update on Lourdes Torres-Manteufel vs Doug Phillips Lawsuit,” Spiritual Sounding Board, March 30, 2015, link, accessed on April 30, 2015.

It’s Not Just the Religious Homeschoolers: Alianne’s Story

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Lee Haywood. Image links to source.
CC image courtesy of Flickr, Lee Haywood. Image links to source.

Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Alianne” is a pseudonym.

We’re both in our twenties now, but my brother and I were homeschooled from elementary school through high school graduation. To put it simply, the entire experience was an absolute nightmare. However, it didn’t appear that way to other people nor did it appear like that on the surface of the image our mother and father tried to present to everyone.

When I was a child, people would comment on my writing or math skills and would give credit to homeschooling or my parents who happily bragged about it. But the reality was that my mother taught me absolutely nothing. She wasn’t even remotely skilled in either math or essay writing. I taught myself how to be very skilled with math and writing techniques, without any help from my parents whatsoever.

In my older brother’s case, the “education” he received was also absolutely zero and he didn’t fare as well as I did. Our parents rarely tried to help him, and hardly mentioned him or any skills he had to anyone, let alone bragged.

Our mother and father epitomized the braggadocio of homeschool parenting:

Always mention the “good” side that’s beneficial to them, and lie and stretch the truth of anything negative that would prove the opposite of the image they’re trying to present to everyone as truth.

Now that we’re older and we’re more capable of understanding what our mother and father really did to us, we’ve both realized that many of the common phrases and rationalizations that homeschoolers use simply aren’t true. To keep it simple, I’ll only post the main three misconceptions we came to realize:

1. Socialization:

Homeschool parents will use the excuses that their children are socialized because they join groups, have many activities, even have friends from public school, etc. However, parents will often neglect to mention the fact that in many families these activities only happen occasionally or just a few times per week. Many children don’t have any real interaction on a daily basis with other children and are only allowed to interact at the parent’s convenience, not in the way what the children really need.

My main point aside from that, though, is that many children are not being socialized properly or learning how to deal with regular social situations, or aka the “real” world. For example, the majority of the people my brother and I grew up around (we lived in a middle class, nice neighborhood, not a terrible one) had addictions, and were dangerous people who had many issues (although neither of us really recognized that until we were in our teens). Being surrounded by dangerous and unsafe people all day isn’t what I would call a safe, healthy, or normal environment for a child to grow up in, let alone the “real” world. Public school may be bad in some instances, but at least the kids will be surrounded mostly by other children (and also, not all public schools are huge terrible places of bullying or drugs/alcohol/sex, now that I’ve heard the stories of people who actually went to public school, I understand that) and not grown adult men and women coming off drug and alcohol highs first thing in the morning.

2. The parents know their children better than anyone:

No, many parents think they do, but they certainly don’t, and neither did our parents. I had anxiety issues and anxiety attacks all throughout my childhood, and was very shy until my late teens. In my brother’s case, although he was very social, he was bullied in elementary school, and had been a target for other children since the day he started. However, once we both reached late teens/adulthood, our issues went away for the most part. Why? Because we were away from our parents’ influence for longer periods of time than before, so their own anxiety and emotional issues no longer had any effect on us. We were both able to act normally for the first time in our lives.

So while our parents would have said that they knew we both had different issues and that’s why we had to stay at home, our issues came directly from being around them. So their decision to homeschool the two of us did absolutely nothing to benefit our lives. We honestly would have been far better off in public school and with two working parents.

In other words,  forcing the child to become the main focus of the parents doesn’t necessarily help them to grow.

It may temporarily stop the problems and it may even help their education to an extent, but it won’t really help the child to deal with situations on their own terms. How can you have your own terms, when the belief system you have and everything surrounding you is dominated by your mother and father?

To be fair, I’m aware of the fact that public school can have the same negative effects on children. However, I’ve met plenty of people who went to public school and who aren’t monsters, drug/alcohol addicts or terrible people by default. Public school doesn’t force every child on the planet to have issues and problems. There are many kids who go to regular school and turn out perfectly fine, don’t have bullying issues, are extremely intelligent, very self-motivated, etc.

I realize people use those same justifications to homeschool, but what I’m trying to say is this: When a child goes off by themselves and isn’t surrounded by the parents’ influences all the time, they will be exposed to different points of view, not just their parents’ main dominating viewpoint. They’ll also have the opportunity to develop their own selves when they are away from their parents. Thus they have the opportunity to choose by themselves to not do dangerous and unhealthy things. By finally being away from our mother and father, my brother and I were able to make safe and healthy choices and set boundaries with other people by ourselves, finally, and for the first time in our entire lives.

Also, I’ve read horror stories online about children who want nothing more than to be homeschooled because the bullying is so severe. Some of their stories actually sounded very similar to what my brother went through. I’ve also seen firsthand the emotional and physical effects of what he endured from other kids. So I’m not naive regarding what can happen to children in public school systems, or dismissive of what happened to my brother in the slightest. However, I’ve also talked with him about it, and as a grown man in his twenties he completely agrees with me that the homeschooling was a horrible idea that helped neither of us. It was all for our parents’ emotional benefit.

Furthermore, as an adult he’s now perfectly able to stand up for himself and will tell people exactly how he feels about something, even if it’s rude, might incite people, etc. He’s able to do so because as he got older he handled people by himself, without our parents influencing everything 24/7 and learned how to deal with it. Our mother and father were both very weak people emotionally, and that definitely rubbed off on both me and my brother.

3. Homeschooled children are almost always better, more educated, and amazing awesome kids — especially compared to public school children:

No, that’s not even remotely true. There are sites and forums where you can read many of the stories from homeschooled kids who had miserable and dysfunctional childhoods. And to make it clear, I’m not just referring to the religious families. My family was semi-Christian and semi-New Age. My brother and I had never attended a church or sermon a day in our lives. My parents never forced religion on us in the slightest manner.

Also, most of the Homeschool/Unschool blogs you see on the internet are written and promoted by the parents. There aren’t very many positive blogs written by the children, because whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the majority of homeschooled kids aren’t happy or well adjusted in society, so they can’t write something that isn’t true. Yes, I have read stories from graduated homeschooled kids who say they were happy the entire time they were homeschooled. Yes, they might honestly have been.

However, to have the audacity to deny and pretend that there aren’t many, many homeschooled children living and interacting in dysfunctional families is absolutely ridiculous.

Of course, you could say the same for public school, but at least in that situation the children can actually get away from their households. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t always places where the families get along wonderfully well, or the children are always happy to be around them. Homeschooling may seem to work very well for a young child, but I’ve never in my life met a homeschooled teen who was happy. Some of them would put on a facade and pretend they were, but once I got to know them… Well, I’ll just say drugs/alcohol/having sex at a young age/depression isn’t only for public school kids, not even remotely.

The parents might not be aware, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

Many of the blogging parents will exaggerate how awesome the homeschooling is and leave out all of the negative effects, or how the children really feel about everything. In our case, my brother and I were miserable 24/7, but our mother and father never mentioned that to anyone. We didn’t mention it, because we were afraid at how angry our parents would have been if we told the truth about how we really felt. Also, we felt very isolated; we interacted with public school kids too, but for the most part we knew that anything we said would eventually get back to our parents. Having a close knit community, or living where your parents schedule everything doesn’t exactly give a good opportunity to be honest about anything. And for the record, our parents weren’t extremists who did the forms of abuse found in many of the stories on Homeschoolers Anonymous. For the most part, they acted fairly normally and mainly just had social anxiety issues.

Yet my brother and I weren’t more educated in the slightest. The only reason I was able to even graduate highschool was because I used an online school program. My brother wasn’t able to get past highschool level, and so he suffered a lot academically as well. One thing I can’t stand more than anything else I see parents write on the homeschooling blogs, is how homeschooling takes so much effort. That’s not true in every case, and it’s certainly not true by default of being a homeschooling parent.

Both of our parents didn’t put in much effort at all for our education. Our father put in absolutely zero of any kind of effort, and left everything to our mother. She stayed at home, and I can honestly say that she would spend 8-10 hrs of her day watching television, and taught us absolutely nothing. Also, there are many other homeschooled kids with similar stories, who suffered a lot academically due to being homeschooled/unschooled.

On the other hand, I have read stories of successful unschool graduates who made it through college. So, I’m not denying the fact that it can be done. However, my point is that if a child can survive being homeschooled/unschooled and still make out okay, and doesn’t have any severe issues to deal with, then public school would be effortless for them, and in my opinion that’s where they should stay.

Finally, I understand that public school doesn’t work for children with special needs, or who have more extreme issues to deal with. However, I absolutely believe that (aside from children in very complicated situations), homeschooling should only be used very temporarily, and not ever seen as a permanent solution. You can solve some issues with homeschooling, but that doesn’t mean you should just stick to it for the rest of the child’s life. Whatever issues the children have will need to be dealt with eventually.

Hiding them from the world and people for the rest of their childhood doesn’t solve or fix anything.

Public school may not be seen as the “right” environment, but it’s the main environment the majority of people grew up in. So if they haven’t dealt with their issues, when they finally reach the adult world people will still be acting and functioning the same way they were before, so trying to pretend that doesn’t have any impact later on isn’t realistic. Most importantly, it keeps the children away from other opportunities and situations that could have actually been good, and far better than the homeschooling.

A Homeschooling Adventure: Homeschooling on the Open Seas, Harmony’s Story

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I have been following Homeschoolers Anonymous for quite a while, after searching for a social group I could be part of that reflects some social issues I’ll expound upon below. I was really not expecting to find what was posted here — stories of abuse, religious restriction, brainwashing, even death. It has been an enlightening experience, and I would like to extend my heartfelt sympathies and support to everyone whose stories I’ve read.

It is because of the harshness and true struggle of these stories that I have refrained from trying to tell my story. How can it compare? How can I hold myself to the same standard as these brave men and women sharing their suffering? But I think it is important to share my story, as it illustrates a detrimental effect homeschooling can have on your later life, even if it is well-meant, non-religious, free-form, and even in a setting that still amazes people to this day.

I had grown up in Colorado until I was 10, and up to that point I had been going to public school, brought up by my Dad after my mother divorced him when I was three or four. I began by going to the local basic elementary school, but I didn’t like it, so the last few years I had been going to a normal charter school. I was not an exceptionally smart kid, but I had a great imagination, and no problems making friends and keeping social with my little group. But in 2000, when I was turning 11, my dad remarried, and retired from his job to sweep us all away on an adventure of a lifetime.

His plan was to sail down the Caribbean, in a 40-ft boat, and go through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific, and finally settle in New Zealand.

Even at 11, I was no stranger to travel, having been to Tahiti, the Bahamas, Venezuela, and New Zealand itself, as well as yearly camping trips to Utah or Grand Mesa in Colorado. So the idea excited me, as it would any young boy, and it was only with a faint inkling of what I was really losing that we hauled our way to Florida to begin the journey.

So, obviously, since we would be moving so much and so quickly, homeschooling was the only real option for our continuing education. Our education largely came from textbooks and workbooks, and some educational computer programs. There was no religious undercurrent — my dad had disliked going to church, and had not wanted to foist that on us as well. So we were free to read the Bible if we wanted and make our own decisions on that front. We largely taught ourselves, going through the books and doing assignments for about four or five hours a day (year round, no winter or summer breaks), going to our parents if we needed help understanding something. For extra-curricular activities, my new step-mother was teaching us Russian and art, and of course we had all the swimming we wanted.

In exchange, however, my social world had shrunk enormously.

People had been voicing their concerns to my dad (who was in charge of everything) about our social development, and he had simply voiced confidence that we would be stronger, because we would be free of peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, violence, all the dangers he had begun seeing grow in our world. I believed and accepted that rationale, and prided myself on skipping the rebellious teenager phase, and being a teetotaler until I was 23.

But the reality was that, without outside input, my development had simply been short-circuited.

There were indeed other children on other boats down in the Caribbean, and we would try to make friends with them. For the most part this worked out great, although in some cases we were forced to try to interact with people we didn’t like. But each and every one of us were going our own routes, and most friendships would only last a few months before our paths split again. So for the majority of those 5 or 6 years on the boat, we had a very inward-focused social world, and depended on the family almost entirely.

Eventually, though, our homeschool supplies became inadequate for continuing education, and it was starting to become time to think about higher education. We were about at Grenada, near the southernmost tip of the Lesser Antilles, one island away from the mainland of South America, when we decided to head back to the states. We stayed in Miami, Florida for a few years, usually at a marina or a dry dock as we restocked on educational supplies and tried to get a new, bigger boat ready for our next foray to try to get back on track.

The reality was that Dad had been growing older too, and he didn’t feel like he was in condition with growing medical concerns to risk sailing across the Pacific. If he didn’t feel like he had to be in charge, and train us and trust us to run the ship if he had to be helicoptered to a hospital, things might have been different, and I might be in New Zealand now.

But the point is to show how Dad, even if he wasn’t overtly religious, had still absorbed a lot of the patriarchal ideas from his parent’s church and his upbringing.

He had been passing that down to us as well, though we didn’t know it.

In Florida, things slowly got worse for our family. We stopped homeschooling, on hiatus while we tried to work things out, but we were more restricted than ever, because Miami was a hotbed for the peer pressure, drugs, and violence we had been warned about all of our lives. So going to normal school there was out of the question. My older sister and I got our GED’s, where I had my first glimpse of college and wanting to really feel like I wanted to go there. But we were stuck in limbo while Dad tried to work things out.

Long story short, we made a last ditch effort to make an art gallery in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and it failed. My family split apart with another divorce, with my older sister and my step-mother and her daughter remaining in Eureka Springs. I went to Tulsa with my Dad, because he had a friend there and it was a good place to continue my education.

In Eureka Springs, ostensibly I had more freedom than ever. I had a car I could drive, and a whole town of people I could socialize with, if I wanted. I had nothing but time on my hands, and nothing to do except go to town and help with the gallery every now and then. But I was more isolated than I’d ever been before- I was forced to stay in a camper in the back of a pick-up truck, because my mother and sisters had rented an apartment that didn’t allow pets, so I had to stay there with the dogs and the cats. But I hardly ever went out- I kept myself confined, worrying about the dogs, not having any motivation to leave. I was by myself most of the time- Dad was hired as a trucker to supplement the gallery’s income and keep it afloat, so he was away for weeks at a time, and my sisters lived in town. But I just couldn’t leave the camper except to get food.

When Dad and I moved to Tulsa, it was actually worse.I stayed in the trailer for a year while we waited for residency to get into college, too afraid of that peer pressure/drugs/violence world out there. When I finally enrolled for classes, at first I could not even talk to the teachers- though the homeschooling now apparently paid off, as I was literally steam-rolling through the classes, only getting B’s in Composition because I had never heard of and didn’t know how to use MLA format. But even though I was doing great academically, I was still suffering socially. I didn’t make a single friend, as I just didn’t have the courage to talk to anyone, and I had no connection to them.

I often felt like I was a time traveler, as I had missed so much of what was integral to everyone else’s development and frame of reference.

And I was dismissive of them too- it seemed like all the girls were dressing like sluts, all the guys were idiots, the teachers were liberal scum. I even refused to write a paper for a sociology class about the gender/orientation spectrum, protesting that it was complete nonsense.

From these last few sentences, you can see that I had pretty much unthinkingly adopted my dad’s point of view. Growing up in that homeschooling environment, so inwardly and family focused, had denied all other points of view. And even though Dad wasn’t aware of it, he was one of the only guiding points we had available. He was unconsciously passing along his parent’s strict, conservative religious teachings to us. It was only after I finally decided on archaeology over paleontology, and studying anthropology, that I began getting a global perspective.

I had dismissed sociology as just liberal propaganda dressed up to look scientific to push their agenda- but anthropology gave me the tool of cultural relativism to realize that Western notions of right or wrong weren’t necessarily the right one. I learned about how other cultures express sexuality, religion, and family relations. I learned more about how people worked, in a sense of all of humanity, not just Americans.

Slowly, I began to change my accepted views. I saw how ethnocentric right-wing politicians really were, pursuing an agenda focused solely within their Christian-political world-view. I explored my own sexuality, coming to terms with it and even completely changing my gender identity.

I also began seeing the need for my own independence. I needed to get out from my dad’s apron strings, and begin learning how to do things on my own. So I moved from Tulsa to Norman to attend OU, to attempt to make it on my own. But I still find myself secluded- I stay in my room, lacking the incentive or energy to go out, even to see my other room-mates. I have gone to several campus organization meetings, but most of the time I find some excuse not to go. Like before, even though my intellectual development expanded again, my social development still lags far behind.

So many homeschool parents intend the best for their children. They want them prepared for the world that they see, to be good, upright people, or to protect them from the evils of the world. But, as hopefully my story illustrated, even homeschooling in the amazing setting of the Caribbean can give much different results than you could imagine, and how parents can rarely foresee the outcome of what they are really doing.