a boy concentrates on his homework, studying the design of airplanes

What are Our Schools “Really” Teaching?

By Jennifer Bright

As contentious school board meetings were publicized in Virginia, I pondered about what was happening in my local area and what the schools were ‘really’ teaching. I started watching my local board meetings online to see the hot topics like library books, new curricula, charter schools, etc. For background, my community is one of the wealthier, conservative parishes with some of the best public schools. With the top schools, my area also has the largest number of homeschoolers in the state.

In addition to this, I wasn’t surprised to see inconspicuous, redefined language regarding social-emotional learning in the curriculum. So, I took a closer look at a few curriculum companies that my local school district uses:

Amplify Science

In early 2023, the local school board adopted a new science curriculum, Amplify Science. I did a quick search online to learn more about the company. From their website:

“Our goal is to make education, and thereby the world, more equitable and accessible… To do this, we hire and develop people with the broadest range of talents, life stories and experiences, and together we build a diverse and inclusive culture”.1

There are a few words that stick out: equitable, accessible, diverse, and inclusive. This is, on the surface DEI curriculum.

FranklinCovey Company: Leader in Me

Another curriculum company adopted this year by my local public schools is Leader in Me by the FranklinCovey company. Here is what the company says about itself:

“Inclusion is a core value at FranklinCovey. We know that building an inclusive work culture in which everyone is valued and respected contributes to our success. Our content and solutions encourage inclusion and embracing and celebrating different backgrounds, perspectives, and identities.

As a company, we prohibit discrimination as it relates to race, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, education, disability status, socioeconomic status, religion, or any other characteristic… We are committed to serving our customers with respect and helping them improve their individual, team, and organizational performance to achieve extraordinary results and lasting change.” 2… FranklinCovey works with clients every day to steward diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives bolstered by our learning programs… Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are in strong alignment with FranklinCovey’s core mission and values.”3

Do we not see those same words of diversity, inclusion, and equity (DEI) here as well? And the FranklinCovey company is committed to stewarding DEI in its learning programs, like Leader in Me.4

FranklinCovey company is very clear that they are proudly proclaiming DEI, CRT, and the alphabet mess.

Great Minds: Eureka Math

As a final test case, a popular math curriculum used by many schools around the country, as well as in my local public schools, is Eureka Math2; This math program states in its overview, “designed to advance equity in the math classroom.”5

In the Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 press release from Great Minds, they share “how its math and English language arts curricula integrate social and emotional learning into their core instruction.”

“Eureka Math® (PK–12) and Wit & Wisdom® (K–8) each foster the development of the five core competencies from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. The analyses explain how each curriculum aligns with the competencies and research, showing why the competencies are important to student development and academic learning.”6

This company was not as easy to identify if they were using CRT or committed to DEI. It is like a blip on a radar screen that is warning us that something is coming but not sure if it is a friend or foe. So, as a classically educated person, let’s define the terms:

What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) “is a systemic approach that emphasizes the importance of establishing equitable learning environments and coordinating practices across key settings of classrooms, schools, families, and communities to enhance all students’ social, emotional, and academic learning.”7

“Inequities based on race, ethnicity, class, language, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other factors are deeply ingrained in the vast majority of these systems and impact student and adult social, emotional, and academic learning. While SEL alone will not solve longstanding and deep-seated inequities in the education system, it can create the conditions needed for individuals and schools to examine and interrupt inequitable policies and practices, create more inclusive learning environments, and reveal and nurture the interests and assets of all individuals.”8

Is SEL a Trojan Horse for Critical Race Theory?

From a 2021 article, the Washington Examiner said social-emotional learning is a “Trojan horse” for both critical race theory and transgender advocacy being introduced and propagated in public schools. It is also being referred to as a “new variant of the “CRT-virus,” and “SEL education pipeline.”

Critical Race Theory (CRT) has evolved into a Social and Emotional Learning curriculum (SEL) known as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).  This has crept into our public school systems through its school curricula via teacher training programs. Words like “equity,” “social justice,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “culturally responsive teaching” sound harmless and pleasing, but their actual definitions are different than what they commonly mean.9

My local school district banned Critical Race theory from being taught in public schools. I am not so sure. So what are your local schools ‘really’ teaching?

Engage and Educate

We can’t just do internet searches on DEI and CRT and expect to find everything anymore. The enemy always appears as an angel of light, shifting its language to accomplish its goals. This is just scratching the surface of the cultural battle raging around us. Parents, we need to be sober and attentive to what curriculum providers are promoting. Do they align with our Christian values and beliefs?

We need to engage the culture, stand firm, and choose to educate in the Truth!

Classical Conversations has created a new math curriculum that is classical in pedagogy, with a Christian worldview, to teach and disciple our children in the Truth.  Check it out!

To learn more about the difference between equality and equity, read our recent blog.

Jennifer Bright is the Communication Manager for Research and Quality Assurance for Classical Conversations. Jennifer’s passions are classical Christian education and discipling the next generation to live for Christ. She supports homeschool families by tutoring their students with the classical tools of learning. Jennifer and her husband began their homeschool journey almost 20 years ago in Russia while serving as missionaries, and currently, they reside in Covington, Louisiana.

  1. DEIA Statement”. Amplify. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  2. Commitment to Diversity”. Franklin Covey. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  3. Commitment to Diversity”. Franklin Covey. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  4. Commitment to Diversity”. Franklin Covey. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  5. Eureka Math Squared”. Great Minds. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  6. Colby, Chad. “Great Minds Curricula Integrate Social Emotional Learning with Instruction”. Great Minds. October 4, 2019. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  7. Fundamentals of SEL—What is the Casel Framework”. CASEL. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  8. Fundamentals of SEL—What is the Casel Framework”. CASEL. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  9. Letter: The Failing Acronyms of CRT DEI and SEL”. Orange Town News. September 28, 2023. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
a grassy cemetery full of rows of white, symmetrical gravestones

Should the Confederate Statue be Taken Down? – Recent News at Arlington Cemetery

by Elise DeYoung

This summer I had the honor of visiting our nation’s capital. Upon arrival, my friends and I went to Arlington National Cemetery to pay our respects to our country’s fallen soldiers. I was amazed by the scale of the cemetery and the countless rows of headstones that rest peacefully on the grounds. I saw many monuments erected to pay homage to brutal battles fought and to honor countless soldiers lost.

Recently, Arlington National Cemetery made headlines by tearing down a monument dedicated to fallen Confederate soldiers that has stood on its grounds for over a century.

Two Reasons the Statue is Being Taken Down

There are two primary reasons why they decided to tear down the statue: First, they believe it is wrong to honor soldiers who fought in defense of slavery. Second, they claim that the statue itself portrays a romanticized picture of slavery and belittles the wickedness of the institution.

Both arguments take issue with the imagined purpose and message of the monument so, it is necessary to examine the history of Arlington and the Confederate monument when considering these reasons.

First Argument

Arlington National Cemetery is categorized into many sections that represent specific wars, battles, and divisions. The soldiers who are buried in each section are there due to a connection that they had with that event or station.

Additionally, each section has a monument in place to honor and respect the men buried there. There is a monument for the Battle of the Bulge, one for the Korean War, and another for the Spanish-American War nurses. And until a few days ago, there was a monument for Section 16, which holds and honors the fallen soldiers of the Confederacy.

Originally, Arlington was a Union cemetery that did not allow for Confederate soldiers to be buried there. However, as it gained prominence and included soldiers from many wars and battles, there was a debate about whether Confederate soldiers should be allowed to be buried there. The final decision was made in 1900 and soon, Confederates were being buried at the Capital. Today, over 400 Confederate soldiers are buried at Arlington.  

In support of this decision, President McKinley famously said, “In the spirit of fraternity, we should share with you in the care of the graves of Confederate soldiers…. Sectional feeling no longer holds back the love we feel for each other. The old flag again waves over us in peace with new glories.”

Graves for Confederate Soldiers Do Not Glorify or Promote Racism

This was not out of lingering racism or traces of slavery support that these men were honored and allowed to rest at Arlington. In a stark contrast to that belief, the desire for unity and peace motivated the burial of Confederate soldiers.

If people are angry with the honoring of Confederate troops, it is foolish to believe that by removing the monument, their discontentment will be satisfied. There are still over 400 Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington. Should we dig up the graves out of protest? I argue that erasing the memory is tantamount to promoting racism and forgetting past errors.

Removing a monument stems from an ignorance of its historynot to mention that this is a petty position to hold. The men and women who saw the war and lived through the Reconstruction allowed the Confederate soldiers to rest peacefully next to their fellow Union Americans. So why should we be the ones who are outraged?

Second Argument

The second reason that Arlington tore down the monument is they believe the statue itself romanticizes slavery and downplays the evils of the institution.

While it is true that the monument does not portray slaves being whipped, this was never its purpose. It was to the memory and history of the Confederate soldiers, not to the slaves.

Arlington explains what the purpose of the monument is and why it has historically stood at the cemetery.

            “The Confederate Memorial offers an opportunity for visitors to reflect on the history and meanings of the Civil War, slavery, and the relationship between military service, citizenship, and race in America… In such ways, the history of Arlington National Cemetery allows us to better understand the complex history of the United States.”

Even Arlington recognizes that the monument was intended to invite its viewers to reflect on the American Civil War, slavery, and the men who fought in the war. It was not intended to expand division and hatred, but to encourage both sides to remember the past while we move into the future together as fellow Americans.

The Monument is Not a Beacon of White Supremacy

It is not a beacon of white supremacy. Rather it promotes our unity as Americans. It is not a symbol of slavery. It’s a symbol to celebrate our victory over it.

Arlington’s own website contradicts its decision to destroy the statue. According to them the monument “Allows us to better understand the complex history of the United States.”

It is essential that we, as Americans, are well informed of our nation’s complex (and often ugly) history. It’s imperative we know the good and the bad. We must know the bad so that we can be sure never to repeat our past mistakes.

Monuments and statues are a way of bringing history to life and honoring those who lived it. By tearing them down, we are tearing down our past. By vandalizing them, we are shaming and disgracing those who built this nation we now have the honor of living in.

As George Orwell in his work “1984″ said, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

It’s imperative we not allow our history to be distorted by those who call for the destruction of it. Arlington National Cemetery has joined with those who are insistent on forgetting, but we must not follow in their footsteps. We must stand up for history and our right to remember until “The old flag again waves over us in peace with new glories.”

Elise DeYoung is a PR & Communications Associate as well as a Classical Conversations graduate. With CC, she strives to know God and make Him known in all aspects of her life. She is a servant of Christ, an avid reader, and a professional nap-taker. As she continues her journey towards the Celestial City, she is determined to gain wisdom and understanding wherever it can be found. Soli Deo gloria!

the back of a young kid wearing a yellow raincoat and wearing a backpack on a rainy day

Build Their Worldview: A Case for Catechizing Our Children for the Sake of Political Engagement

By Edward Murray

For families, political engagement is a battle fought on two fronts. On the one hand, we see the battle to engage personally. On this front, we take in the twenty-four-hour news cycle and consider the best way to engage with our given sphere of influence. However, often neglected is the second front, where we aim to raise children who will one day engage in policy as adults.

To simplify this endeavor, I urge you to consider that their foundation for better political engagement is not history, civics, or political theory (although these are imperative!) but rather a well-developed, biblical worldview. Such will not only aid their foundations for a deeper relationship with God but will also help them attain theological categories for future eschatology, cultural engagement, and a proper relationship between church (or the Kingdom of God) and state.

In this last category (the Kingdom of God vs. the Kingdom of the State), many Christians have erred without a robust biblical worldview. To help our children grow, I propose we get back to catechizing our children.

How We Learn Big Topics

When studying any great topic, a student must constantly focus his attention on two perspectives: the forest (a broad overview)and the trees (the finer details).

For the Christian, his goal is to learn the whole counsel of God—contained in the sixty-six books of the Bible—for his own devotional growth as well as for the purpose of making disciples of others both inside and outside of his immediate family.

The two disciplines of Christian study that approach these ends are called systematic theology (the forest) and biblical theology (the trees). The Bible is a big book, and in order to completely learn what God has spoken to us in it, Christians are called to bounce between the two disciplines (the forest and the trees) in order to grasp “the whole counsel of God.”

Why Catechize?

For many, biblical theology (examining doctrine at the text level) comes naturally and is more easily integrated into family life. Many find much joy in reading Bible stories during reading time or before bed and hearing them in children’s church.

However, integrating systematic theology (examining doctrine at the whole-Bible level) proves more difficult—especially doing so in a way that every member of the family can benefit. One option would be for the entire family to sit down and work through massive academic volumes such as Grudem’s, Berkoff’s, or Bavinck’s systematic theologies, but this would be unreasonable on many levels.

On the other hand, families may get a forest view of the Bible by incorporating the historical practice of catechesis. In short, catechesis is the practice of teaching doctrine at a systematic level through the structure of questions and answer responses.

We currently find ourselves amid an increasingly pluralistic society in which basic assumptions regarding God, man, and creation are regularly taken for granted. For instance, take the statement: “God loves you and offers you salvation through his son Jesus.” We often miss that many parts of this sentence are loaded concepts, each requiring a deeper biblical understanding in order to fully grasp what we mean by this statement:

Who exactly is God? What do we mean by God’s love? What is salvation? Why do we need salvation? Who is Jesus? How is he both God and God’s son at the same time? And so on.

Consider this: the doctrine of the Trinity has been the de facto “line in the sand” for historic orthodoxy since the birth of the Church! How many of us can articulate Trinitarian doctrine?

All of this to say, given the theological confusion of the day, today’s climate presents not less but more justification to take up the practice of catechesis.

A Suggested Resource: A New City Catechism

Throughout history, the church has given us a great deal of resources to choose from for our instruction, including many great catechisms. For instance, at our disposal are Luther’s Catechisms, Calvin’s Geneva Catechism, the Heidelberg Catechism, Owen’s or Baxter’s Catechisms, and even the more popular Westminster Catechisms or London Baptist 1677 Catechisms. Many of these are good resources to glean from; however, for many, their theological nuances are very narrow and punctiliar in scope, often taking hard stances on issues we would consider to be “Doctrines of Scriptural Latitude,” as well as antiquated in how they are worded.

Enter the New City Catechism (NCC).

In line with the theological streams of the great documents listed above, this FREE resource offers systematic training that enables us to affirm the broad stroke of historic evangelical doctrine (major doctrines) while allowing freedom on doctrine that warrants scriptural latitude. Regarding format, the NCC summarizes basic tenets of the Christian faith in fifty-two questions, with answers for both adults and children, each including a scriptural supporting text. In addition to this, there are several other resources available to assist the catechism, including devotional studies, smartphone apps, and recorded songs to aid in children’s memorization.

Also, did I mention it’s FREE?

*Although there is much to be said about it, I’d like to also suggest “The Westminster Shorter Catechism Songs” by Brian Sauve.

What a Catechism Does Not Do

Last, it seems important to close with some perspective regarding what this or any catechism does not do.

Nothing can be more off-putting to true faith practice than placing our hope in methods or legalistically binding people’s consciences to secondary resources (as if they are scripture, as great/ important as they may be!). Of course, I think confessions and catechisms are great and important, but they are not scripture. They are tools used to aid us in the devotional lives of our people and our children. They have no supernatural converting power in themselves, and at the end of the day, they will not guarantee the conversion of our people or our children, especially if they are divorced from the personal commitment to day-in/day-out discipleship.

Having said that, I still believe that the practice of catechesis will help us not only evangelize our children but will also help us train them to systematically digest the whole counsel of God. Moreover, connecting ourselves with external, pre-written confessional documents allows us to not only identify with the church universal but also aids in training our people to humbly see themselves as connected to that great body.

Teach Them the Whole Counsel of God

We are called to be whole-Bible people, and we are called to train our disciples and children in all that the scriptures teach us regarding God, Man, Christ, and salvation. On the road to Damascus, our Lord expanded our narrow purview on this to convey that this included all the scriptures, and later in the book of Acts, we see the apostles boldly shepherding their people in “the whole counsel of God (cf. Acts 20:26-27).”

As we fight to make sure that all our teaching is “gospel-centric” and “Christ-centered,” let’s be sure to avoid falling into the error of “gospel reductionism.” Moreover, let’s help our families develop a healthy understanding of the relationship between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of the State by developing these whole-Bible categories.

Without a systematic commitment to teaching our children (and everyone!) the whole counsel of God, then at the end of the day, a truncated gospel message may end up becoming a pseudo– or even false– gospel in the ears of the ill-informed.

Will you join me in using this time to catechize our children? In doing so, I pray that this will help them learn the whole counsel of God to the end so that they may personally know the God of the whole counsel.

Edward Murray currently serves as Manager of Special Projects & Research for Classical Conversations’ Strategy and Corporate Affairs Team. He is a native of Augusta, GA, and an alumnus of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC, where he earned his MDiv. He currently lives in Newport News, VA, with his wife and three children.

a Classical Conversations family smiles at the camera, with text that says "Thankful for homeschool freedoms"

Are We Thankful for Our Freedom to Homeschool?

By Edward Murray

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving . . . ” —Psalm 50:4 (ESV)

Fall is my favorite time of year, and for several reasons—one of which is because it marks the beginning of the holidays. However, one holiday stands out as my favorite: Thanksgiving. While this holiday may not recognize a biblically historical event, its intended is to direct us towards a biblical virtue of contentment: being thankful for what God has already given us. This month, let’s ask ourselves: Are we thankful for our freedom to homeschool? Put another way: Although homeschooling is our God-given right, are we thankful that our country currently recognizes our freedom to homeschool?

News outlets recently reported that states across the nation have seen exponential growth in homeschooling since the pandemic. In fact, “Homeschooling has become America’s fastest-growing form of education and continues to explode in popularity long after pandemic-era remote learning has ended . . . ”1

Are We Thankful for Homeschooling?

Mairead Elordi further reports, “Before the pandemic, there were 1.5 million homeschoolers in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Now, there are between 1.9 million and 2.7 million homeschoolers in the country, the Post’s analysis estimated. Only two states, Georgia and Maryland, have seen homeschooling return to pre-pandemic levels.”2

Although conservatives lost both houses in my state of Virginia recently, Danny Diggs (R) beat out Monty Mason (D) for the Twenty-Fourth Senate District, and for good reason. Recently, Mason was captured on hot mic mocking parental rights as “garbage, crap, and stupid.”3 Meanwhile, whatever is thought of his official performance, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin made visible the parental-rights undercurrent when he ran on these issues and won.

What do we learn from all this? Although previous homeschoolers understood the threats in the 80s and 90s, now younger generations are awakening to these realities. The state is not to be ignored, and infringement is a constant danger. In other words, awareness is leading us to thankfulness and action.

It’s Easy to Forget

As a former pastor, I’ve made this principle a repetitive talking point. Thankfulness is not a passive state of being but an active discipline. Not to be too philosophical, but although we may reach a state of being thankful, biblically speaking, thankfulness is something we actively exercise, whether we are or not.

Many psychologists suggest beginning or ending each day with a list of at least 3–5 things we are thankful for. Why do we need this? Because we are naturally bent towards negativity and forgetfulness due to sin.4 This is why the Lord instructed His people to erect monuments and practice regular rhythms of festival and feasting in the Old Covenant. He knows our frame (Ps. 103:14) and knows our proclivity to failure when it comes to reminding younger generations (Josh 4:19–24). Throw all this in with these day-to-day realities:

  1. Homeschooling is hard.
  2. Making disciples is hard.
  3. Soul-winning is hard.
  4. Gathering ourselves for reflection when our energy is spent at the end of the day is hard.

Are we thankful for our freedom to homeschool? In many ways yes, we are! However, in many ways, we tend to drop the ball when it comes to being actively thankful. We’re distracted. If it takes sitting down and writing a daily list of three reasons to be thankful for our freedom, let’s do it.

Don’t Take Freedom for Granted

As I mentioned earlier, we currently have the freedom to personally educate our children. But let’s not take this for granted. Don’t fail to properly appreciate what we possess at this moment in history. Although homeschooling is our God-given right, the government’s willingness to recognize this is not to be assumed in a fallen world.

Although homeschooling is biblically normative (and was historically normative prior to the twentieth century), the legal prohibition against this is relatively recent. This current freedom is very fresh. Remember, it has only been since 1992 that all fifty states officially recognized homeschooling as a legal option.5

Moreover, you’ll recall that the Romeike family fled Germany in 2008 for asylum in the United States, solely for the opportunity to homeschool. They’re now under the threat of deportation by the U.S. government, with a temporary delay granted just October 6 of this year. Their stay is not guaranteed, and they still need our support.

Find out how you can help the Romeike family with our friends at HSLDA.

Although our current moment is witnessing a rapid increase and appreciation for homeschooling, critics and legislators continue to push for more government oversight. This shouldn’t be underestimated. Every year across the country, legislation swarms the halls of our capitols, sparkling with subsidies and laced with infringements. Don’t take your freedom to homeschool for granted. It is on the docket and at the ballot box every election.

How Then Should We Live?

This month, reflect on this question: Am I thankful for my freedom to homeschool? Current trends indicate that more are awakening to this blessing and that it’s something to fight for. Yet given our proclivity to forgetfulness, we need to endure with active thankfulness. Don’t take for granted the hard-won battles of generations past. Future generations are depending on us.

Legend has it that Ben Franklin was asked what type of government was created from the Constitutional Convention. His pithy response was, “A republic if you can keep it.” This mantra should ring in our heads as we reflect on our liberty to homeschool.

The principle is clear: If we want to keep our liberty, we must fight for it. It’s only ours “if we can keep it.” We cannot remain idle.

This Thanksgiving, let’s pause to be thankful for our freedom to homeschool. Additionally, let’s pray, celebrate, and feast in the presence of the Lord for this blessing. And when our meal is over, let’s be actively thankful by engaging our spheres of influence with awareness of what’s at stake.

Happy Thanksgiving!

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” —1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (ESV)

Edward Murray currently serves as Manager of Special Projects and Research for the Strategy and Corporate Affairs Team at Classical Conversations. He is a native of Augusta, Georgia, and an alumnus of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he earned his Master of Divinity. He currently lives in Newport News, Virginia, with his wife and three children.

  1. Peter Jamison, Laura Meckler, Prayag Gordy, Clara Ence Morse, and Chris Alcantara, “Home Schooling’s Rise from Fringe to Fastest-Growing Form of Education,” Washington Post, October 31, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/interactive/2023/homeschooling-growth-data-by-district/ ↩︎
  2. Mairead Elordi, “Homeschooling Continues to Rise Dramatically, WaPo Analysis Shows,” Daily Wire, November 1, 2023, https://www.dailywire.com/news/homeschooling-continues-to-rise-dramatically-wapo-analysis-shows. ↩︎
  3. Brandon Gillespie, “Democratic Lawmakers Caught on Hot Mic Mocking Parental Rights as ‘Garbage,’ ‘Stupid,’” Fox News, April 26, 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/democratic-lawmakers-hot-mic-mocking-parental-rights-garbage-stupid. ↩︎
  4. Psychologists recognize a phenomenon labeled “negativity bias.” This refers to our brain’s response to negative stimuli with greater neural processing over positive stimuli. Because of this, we tend to find bad news more fixating than good, as well as see more lasting impact from negative experiences (e.g., insult, trauma, etc.) than positive experiences. For further reading, Kendra Cherry, “What Is the Negativity Bias,” Verywell Mind, November 13, 2023,. https://www.verywellmind.com/negative-bias-4589618. ↩︎
  5. “The History of Homeschooling in the United States,” Northgate Academy, January 12, 2022, https://www.northgateacademy.com/the-history-of-homeschooling-in-the-united-states/#:~:text=In%201992%2C%20homeschooling%20was%20officially,to%20750%2C000%20students%20in%201995. ↩︎
a red "I voted" sticker

Vote for Liberty

By Lauren Gideon

A few people have asked for my recommendations for upcoming school board seats up for election. I know of some good people running, and I will give you their names in a heartbeat because I have much respect for them. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am convinced that school board elections are a waste of good people, time, and resources in the year 2023.

State School Snare: Incapable of Giving You the Tools Needed to Flourish

Government schools are captured on so many levels. Unfortunately, there is little chance for reform. Even if you gave the necessary people, time, and resources to the cause, the reality is that liberating education is not in a growing government’s best interest. An education that teaches the proper affection toward liberty and a proper fear of consolidated power would threaten a growing government; thus, the state schools are incapable of giving you the tools needed to flourish. The government will use its schools to propagate the expansion of itself. (This we can already see.) At this rate, how many graduating classes currently stand between where we are at now and implementing and embracing absolute socialism?

The only mechanism to stop the suppression of liberty is to defund state education and the Department of Education. However, the moment you say that out loud, you had better expect a very loud and in-your-face question from an unimaginative population that screams, “BUT WHAT WILL WE DO WITHOUT STATE EDUCATION?!?”
 
Well, the first reality is that in the state of Iowa, where I live, $3.7 billion (thanks to the latest increase due to school choice policies) will flood back into the Iowa free-market education economy. Consequently, all sorts of options become possible.

Unsatisfied, the same doubters will insist that Iowans will not fund education through any other method than coercive taxation.

This also is no cause for alarm since, historically speaking, the free market has the potential to offer a higher quality education for less than 50 percent of the cost of government education.

Self-Fund or Secure Private Funding for Education?

But the ultimate concerns from skeptics will sound something like this: “What will happen if parents won’t self-fund or secure private funding for their children’s education? Will we end up with a population of uneducated children that will be a liability to our state? Consequently, it must be in our state’s best interest to fund and force government education on children.”

This question is powerful because it shows the true colors of our culture and reveals our flawed presumptions:

1. We presume that the state cares more for children than their parents.

2. We presume that the state is responsible for parental failures.

3. Finally, we reveal that we would rather trust our mechanisms of control than embrace the responsibility of freedom.

Because of this reality, the economics of the issue do not really matter.

Freedom Is a Dangerous Currency

Freedom is an invitation to responsibility, but it allows for the opportunity to embrace or reject that responsibility. Freedom does not protect from failure. The question has to be asked: do our states even want freedom? Does our nation? The Proverbs speak of two women, Lady Folly and Lady Wisdom, and the choice to be made. Similarly, in our modern context, there are also two women: Lady Liberty and the Lady “Nanny.” This choice is more fundamental than any political party, as the siren call from Lady Nanny beckons all. She whispers empty promises of safety and security and blinds us to the opportunity and blessings found with Lady Liberty.

Vote for Liberty

When election day arrives, there will be choices. Step one is to vote for candidates that are appropriately shutting out the Nanny’s calls. Step two, after election day, will you build relationships in your community and with those that represent you? Will you advocate for Liberty and warn against the deceptive promises of the Nanny?

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship IQ on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their seven children on their small acreage, where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.

hands clasped together in prayer, resting over an open Bible

National Homeschool Day of Prayer Today!

By Lauren Gideon

“. . . she couldn’t see the forest for the trees.”

Pray, Pray, and Pray Some More

If you are a mom like me, homeschooling is not new to your family’s rhythm. My oldest is a senior, and I have been his primary teacher since he was born. Right now, my prayers naturally turn toward asking for wisdom for this new season and what lies ahead for him and our relationship. I also naturally pray through the changes our family has been going through this last year and the changes still to come. I pray over the new events and trials for others in my life. I pray for the “new trees.”

In the forest of my life, sometimes I lose sight of what’s going on around me because it all looks the same. Most people have heard of nose blindness to the smells we’ve become accustomed to, but could there be a blindness to the consistent rhythms of our lives? My cousin once told me of a lady she knew who would literally stand in the bread aisle and pray over which loaf of bread to buy. That has never been my style, but could there be a chance that I am missing out on paying attention to and praying for the things that aren’t new, the things I find ordinary?

Today is National Day of Prayer

That is where my thoughts took me when I learned of Homeschool Freedom’s National Homeschool Day of Prayer. Here is the list of ideas this organization suggests should inform your prayers.

PLEASE JOIN US AND OTHER HOMESCHOOLERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY AS WE:

  • Give thanks for the freedom we have to homeschool our children,
  • Pray for homeschooling families in your own nation and around the world,
  • Pray for upcoming elections and the impact they may have on homeschooling,
  • Pray for your state’s homeschool organization and its leaders,
  • Pray for your elected officials to recognize that the education of children is the responsibility of the parents, not that of the nation,
  • Pray for your own family—your homeschooling journey and the Lord’s guidance as you take that journey, your relationships with one another, your own children and their futures, as well as seeking ways your family can minister to others,
  • Rejoice in God’s mercy and His faithfulness in all things.

If you’re like me, it’s good to have these reminders to help us see what we have become accustomed to seeing. If you are reading this, I’m praying for you, too. Wherever you are in your homeschooling journey, I pray that you will see the tiny miracles of grace happening in yourself and in the lives around you, that you won’t take a single school day (which is every day) for granted, and that you will invest each moment for the sake of the kingdom and for the smile of your Father.

Head over to Homeschool Freedom’s Facebook page today for additional prayer prompts and live guests.

Lauren Gideon is the Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for Classical Conversations. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship IQ on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their seven children on their small acreage, where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.

The back of a graduate's head, facing a blurred out background of other graduates

Government Funding Private Education Is Not the Solution

By Robert Bortins (CEO, Classical Conversations)

I was recently at a conservative policy event that promoted the supposed benefits of universal school choice. Ironically, the event reaffirmed my opposition to this policy, even though I would benefit personally and financially from the outcomes.

First, universal school choice creates an economic dependency on government funding. Second, it’s not a free market solution. Finally, it really isn’t even a conservative policy, even if the big think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and Americans for Prosperity have jumped onboard the taxpayer gravy train. Hats off to the Texas legislators for not jumping in the deep end with SB 1 like other states have (and will come to regret).

I Don’t Co-Parent with the Government.

You may have seen the t-shirt slogan that says, “I don’t co-parent with the government.” Well, if universal school choice is enacted, then everyone will be co-parenting with the Texas state government.

Due to demand-side economics, we are experiencing massive inflation around the U.S. The Heritage Foundation study that claimed ESAs don’t cause inflation is deceptive because the think tank didn’t use any data that reflects recent laws and current bills. Instead, the Heritage Foundation based its findings on less recent measures targeting individuals with learning disabilities and low income rather than parents who already pay for their child’s private education. That study advocates for oranges because apples. The reasoning is unsound.

Since when was relying on the government to subsidize healthy middle-class and rich families a conservative policy, anyway?

Is Universal School Choice a “Free Market” Solution?

You may have heard someone say universal school choice is a “free market solution.” No, it isn’t. Someone pushing universal school choice once told me that a free market is one where the government gives everyone the same amount of money that they can spend anywhere they want. All I could think of was that scene from The Princess Bride with Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Let’s break out the dictionary. Investopedia defines a free market as “one where voluntary exchange and the laws of supply and demand provide the sole basis for the economic system, without government intervention.” Clearly, the government giving families $8,000 a year, sourced from their neighbors’ taxes, isn’t a free market solution.

Universal basic education income is not a conservative policy. It is a neoliberal policy. Just wait for Amazon, Disney, Microsoft, and Apple to start buying up schools and implementing the ruinous principles of ESG investing across private school platforms. Wait until they start data mining your children. Just wait for China to start buying up those private school platforms and data mining your children.

Or don’t wait: they’re already doing that around the country in states that have implemented universal school choice programs.

Let me leave you with a story.

My friend Rachel is a leader for Classical Conversations in Arizona, and quite frankly, our leaders don’t take neoliberal school choice funds. However, she was recently talking to a friend who had taken ESA money and was happy for the funds.

Her friend said, “I used to work part-time to homeschool. I’d have my aunt come over and watch the kids for me so that I could go to work. Now I don’t have to do that!”

Rachel, trained in the tools of rhetoric, politely said, “Let me make sure I understand what you’re saying. Before, you relied on your own hard work and your family, and now, you rely on the government.’”

Her friend’s eyes widened as she realized what she’d done.

I would strongly urge Texas legislators to drop school choice altogether until the results of those bills that have passed in other states can be thoroughly studied.

States tax receipts are starting to plummet as the looming recession becomes apparent. A state surplus in funds can quickly become a deficit, and welfare programs like universal school choice are notoriously hard to eliminate in the future, even when they become economically unsustainable.

The government funding of so-called school choice creates economic dependency. It is not a free market solution, and it isn’t a conservative policy.

Robert Bortins is the CEO of Classical Conversations® and the host of Refining Rhetoric. The company has grown from supporting homeschoolers in about 40 states to supporting homeschoolers in over 50 countries and has become the world’s largest classical homeschooling organization under his guidance.

This op. ed. was originally posted in San Antonio Express News on Oct. 16, 2023. To read the original post, please visit here.

hands clasped together in prayer, resting over an open Bible

Colorado Homeschool Freedom Prayer Update

By Carolyn Martin

“The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.”

Nahum 1:2–3 ESV

The Lord sees all that we are dealing with and will by no means let it go unjudged. As I try to prepare for the next session, the storm clouds continue to build on the horizon. The power of those legislators holding a Marxist worldview is growing, and the rhetoric against God’s created order continues to confound reason. Meanwhile, I can only sit by and watch as those advocating for the growth of government through private-public partnerships as a way to disrupt the status quo in education build their kingdom which is antithetical to His kingdom. Yet, God’s power is greater, and His way is in the whirlwind and the storm!

There is no doubt a storm is coming, bringing destruction in its clouds. The exact characteristics of the storm remain hazy. Knowing the Lord is in the midst of the storm gives assurance to all who trust in His way. Yet, to stand on the edge of the storm as the winds howl and push against your resolve can be overwhelming. I am thankful that God has each of you praying for me, for His will to be done, and for the protection of His people. I am even more grateful that He allows me to meet many of you and thank you in person for upholding me and having a heart for the work He has me doing even when we can’t see the results.

Please continue to pray that I will be guided by His hand and remain steadfast in following His way as the storm clouds strengthen and build.

PRAISE!

  1. Praise God that He is IN the whirlwind and the storm!
  2. Praise God that He is trustworthy.

PRAY!

  1. Pray that God will allow me to speak the words He has ordained and those who hear them will listen.
  2. Pray that God will call more people to come to the Capitol to pray!
  3. Pray for the Lord to raise up an army to counter the lies spoken in His name.
  4. Pray for the hearts of the legislators God has called to the Capitol to be strengthened by His mighty power.
  5. Pray for His wisdom to be revealed to His people in order to overcome what is to come.
  6. Pray that God will protect His people from the repercussions of bad laws.
  7. Pray for His love to overwhelm those working at the Capitol who are seeking Him.
  8. Pray for God’s grace to abound and that the Senate will give us a room to pray in at the Capitol.

Action Items:

  1. Encourage everyone you know to vote. Ballots go out beginning October 16th. Read my most recent blog post on voting this ballot here and follow the links!
  2. Consider joining the CHEC Legislative District Connection (LDC)! I need people throughout Colorado who will commit to making connections with YOUR legislators. Legislators are more apt to listen to their constituents, who can actually impact whether they get elected again or not. We meet via Zoom on the first Monday night of every month to discuss what’s going on at the Capitol and learn about all things dealing with the legislature. Sign up here.

Carolyn Martin is the Director of Government Relations for Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC). She and her husband, Todd, began homeschooling their three children in upstate New York before moving to Colorado in 2004. Her passion is to see homeschooling remain free from government intrusion for future generations.

a man on a mountain peak gazes at a beautiful view of mountains during sunset hour

Sign and Declare Your Educational Freedom

By Lauren Gideon

If you have ever cooked for children, especially multiple children, there is a chance you have experienced the picky eater. They don’t like tacos, or burgers, or casseroles, or pasta. They don’t like salad, or vegetables, or rice, or meat. Even if you’re the tough parent who doesn’t accommodate the picky eater, eventually, we’re all tempted to throw up our hands and shout, “So what DO you like?!?!?”

The topic de jour in the sphere of education is school choice. What is “school choice”? While it goes by many names, the concept is all the same: it is taxpayer-funded education—or, in its simplest, most direct terminology, education welfare. The only conversation that seems to be tolerated on the policy debate stage at this moment is, “Which flavor of education welfare do you prefer?”

At this moment, different states have chosen a variety of flavors. ESAs, EFAs, and vouchers are among the most popular. Consequently, if you have concerns about this type of wealth redistribution (or market capture), the conversation can sound like the complaints of a picky child. “I don’t like ESAs, or vouchers, or EFAs.” And those caught in the middle who genuinely want to be part of the solution are throwing up their hands and asking, “Well, what DO you like?”

Choose Independence

The time has come to clearly define what we are FOR instead of listing off the ideas we oppose.

In a single word, we choose independence.

In this spirit, Leigh Bortins and a room full of passionate education enthusiasts did the philosophical work of drawing up a positive vision of what our target ought to be. Without that clear vision, we can lose our bearings in these national and global conversations. With this Declaration of Educational Independence, we can bring the conversation back to its premises.

To whom do children belong? To whom does education belong? How do we protect these boundaries of ownership (private property) and responsibilities? Because, after all, we believe that:

“…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

To read the Declaration of Educational Freedom, click here.

Lauren Gideon is the Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for Classical Conversations. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship IQ on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their seven children on their small acreage, where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.

The Romeikes family, smiling at the camera, with text that says "Support the Remeikes. Contact your representative and sign the petition"

URGENT: Romeike Family Facing Deportation

From Classical Conversations & HSLDA

Within our organization there is unanimous conviction that all people have a right, not just a priviledge, to educate their children freely, without any intervention by state or any other organizations. One such family – The Romeike’s – fled Germany to the United States to exercise this freedom, but are now facing deportation.

The Romeike’s need your help, and they need it FAST. Please see the following message from our friends at HSLDA below, contact your Representative, and sign the petition.

The Romeike family fled Germany for the United States in 2008 seeking asylum so that they could homeschool their children without fear of persecution. After more than a decade of making the United States their home, the Romeike’s were abruptly informed they had four weeks to return to Germany.

Tennessee Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger has introduced private bill H.R. 5423 to stop this deportation from happening and make the Roeikes eligible for an immigrant visa or permanent resident status.

But the Romeikes also need your help!

Please take just a moment to ask your congressional representative to intervene on their behalf. It’s as easy as filling out this form.

HELP NOW

Rallying support for the Romeike family and H.R. 5423 is so important—we need voices from both sides of the aisle speaking out for them.

Will you stand with the Romeikes and ask your representative to support H.R. 5423?

As always, thank you for your continued support of homeschool families and homeschool freedom!

HSLDA passionately advocates for the freedom to homeschool and offers support for every stage of your homeschool journey. To learn more about HSLDA, and various legal issues facing homeschool families, please visit herhttps://hslda.org/e.