Do you have a mental stereotype of early homeschoolers? Does it look something like this: Lots of kids? Rural living? Academic over-achievement? Maybe a tendency to attend church and vote Republican? (Of course, we can’t forget vintage homeschool fashion! So. Much. Denim.)
No more! Forty years into the modern homeschool movement, homeschooling has bridged every cultural distinction. It’s been embraced by people of all faiths, ethnicities, economic statuses, and political persuasions (a trend that has only continued to explode in the pandemic era).
Why? Because homeschooling works! Parents love seeing their kids unlock new ideas and expand their minds. Kids love face time with their moms and dads, and they thrive with a bespoke approach to learning. Homeschooling means work for everyone involved, but it’s also rewarding.
Home education gives parents and students immense flexibility to pursue an education plan that works for their needs and their lifestyles—and that can look quite different from family to family.
Homeschool freedom is good for all kids and families
Since HSLDA began in 1983, we have always and will continue to serve and defend all homeschoolers. Our president, Mike Smith, has pointed out that this perspective is based on HSLDA’s core values: as a Christian organization, “everything we do is motivated by our gratitude to and love for God, love for those we serve, and passion for making homeschooling possible.”
We understand that if the freedom to homeschool is going to be protected for people who think and believe like we do, then it has to be protected for everyone. That’s how freedom works.
Whether it’s freedom of religion, freedom of speech, educational freedom, or parental rights, if what applies to me doesn’t equally apply to you, it’s not real freedom.
We fight to keep homeschooling free because, ultimately, it’s good for kids and families across the board.
Meeting at the crossroads of real freedom
I’m a Christian, and—when it comes to politics and government—I’m a conservative. For these reasons (and more), my philosophy of government is inherently supportive of goals like educational freedom and parental rights. I believe in limited government, and I believe that strong families (and not strong politicians) are the best building blocks of society.
Without tapping into an even bigger discussion, I think it is fair to say that the prioritization of parents’ roles in making decisions for their child’s education and upbringing has been characteristic of political conservatives in the modern era.
Conversely, a more top-down, schools-first, parents-second approach has been more characteristic of political liberals.
For decades, the political left has either fought against homeschooling outright or, at the very least, viewed it as highly suspect.
However, if you’re a liberal homeschool parent, I assume you believe in the freedom to homeschool.
And, while I am up-front about my personal conservatism, HSLDA Action is a nonpartisan, issues-advocacy organization.
When it comes to election season, it would score homeschooling freedom some real points in certain sectors if we could find some Democratic candidates to work with who would enthusiastically support HSLDA Action’s education policy goals.
Unfortunately, those candidates are scarce to nonexistent (and they often don’t want to publicly associate with homeschoolers because of the blowback from their own party and supporters). That’s why you’ve typically seen our support leaning toward the Republican side of the political aisle up to this point.
Uniting our efforts for the future of homeschooling
Here’s my point with all of this: as the homeschool community becomes increasingly and wonderfully diverse, the base of homeschool advocacy needs to become more diverse as well.
Why should robust arguments for the value and necessity of educational freedom be left only to the conservatives, libertarians, and Republicans? Research tells us that homeschooling isn’t a quirk of the political right wing.
Liberal homeschool parents see firsthand the priceless value of educational freedom. They witness their kids exploring interests, loving learning, and simply flourishing. They experience the flexibility and richness homeschooling brings to their family’s schedule and relationships. And they, too, want this freedom to remain robust.
Yes, it’s true that conservatives and liberals will always have opposing takes on many issues. They will likely disagree on the size and scope of government. They might wrangle over national debt, tax policy, entitlement programs, executive power, and a thousand other important discussions.
But why should we fight over an issue that people across the political spectrum have found to be deeply beneficial? Just like any other freedom, the freedom to homeschool isn’t a given. If we take it for granted and sit on the sidelines, we should not be surprised when we begin to lose it.
We live in exciting times, as more people than ever before discover the joys and empowerment of homeschooling. And Americans find enough to argue about these days. So let’s make this issue one of common ground and agreement.
And to my liberal homeschool friends reading—have you ever thought about running for office and making enthusiastic support of educational freedom a truly bipartisan issue?
If so, give me a call at 540-338-8292. This conservative would like to help.