The Washington Times
July 4, 2005

Washington Times Op-ed — Taking up the mantle of the founders

by J. Michael Smith
HSLDA President

America celebrates its 229th birthday today. The original Independence Day proved to be a turning point in history as a new nation was born with liberty as its central premise. How the people would organize their government would come later, but on July 4, 1776, the people declared that they would be free from British rule.

It was a decision that had been many years in the making and one that was not taken lightly because the British would fight to maintain control of the Colonies. However, despite internal opposition to the American Revolution, a large percentage of the people stood firm and eventually won their struggle to be free.

The desire to be free can be seen throughout history, and modern-day America is no exception. Families who desired to give their children a Christian-based education found themselves throughout the 1970s and 1980s in a similar position to that of the first generation of Americans.

The public school monopoly was exerting full control over all aspects of the educational lives of their children. Slowly but surely, parents were marginalized and the Christian elements of education were downplayed, ignored or actively denied. Families who wanted to be free from the public system but could not afford to send their children to private Christian schools were faced with a big decision: Would they make their own declaration of independence?

To help find the answer, many families looked to the example of the Founding Fathers.

The majority of founders held closely to a Christian worldview, and most believed that a religious or Christian education was necessary to maintain a free country. It was the desire to be able to freely teach Christian principles that motivated the resurgence of home-schooling among evangelicals during the 1970s and 1980s.

Akin to Britain of the 18th and early 19th centuries, which resisted the independence of the Colonies, the public system has fought against home-schooling. In particular, the National Education Association routinely passes a resolution at its annual conference that attacks home-schooling and urges the government to impose strict regulations. In addition, many school principals have a low opinion of home-schooling and desire to bring home-schooled children back into the public system.

It is a shame that much of the educational establishment holds these views despite numerous studies showing the academic quality of a home education and a study showing the success of home-school graduates when they join the community as adults.

However, despite the opposition, home-schooling is legal in some form in every state. States' laws vary from restrictive to minimal regulation.

Once the basic legal questions of home-schooling were resolved, it came time to put freedom into practice. Consequently, home-schoolers were faced with a choice similar to one the founders pondered. What would they do with their newfound freedom?

With freedom comes opportunity as well as responsibility. After the struggle to be recognized legally, home-schoolers have a chance to prove to the world the wisdom of their decision. The founders took a great risk for their country and forged a new Constitution, which has survived for 218 years. If the experiment had failed, freedom would have died in America and possibly in the world.

Home-schoolers also are taking a risk because if home-schooling does not succeed, future generations will not have a credible alternative to the institutional school system.

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