School Choice Isn’t School Choice: My Argument

By Lauren Gideon

I recently wrapped up a year leading Challenge A with Classical Conversations® students. On the last day of community, the students took turns reading their assigned persuasive essays. While each student chose their topic, two had chosen the same topic. 

But they chose different sides!  

After the second student finished reading his essay, arguing opposite the first, do you know what happened? Absolutely nothing! The entire class sat unfazed. They didn’t rush to take sides; they didn’t vote against or ‘cancel’ the minority opinions… no name-calling, and no identity crises. These students haven’t been taught to be offended.  

Look at the Merits of an Idea

They have been taught to look at the merits of an idea as a distinct thing, regardless of the person, their character, their tribe, their emotions, their perceived urgency, and the many other distractions that keep us from discerning the idea’s own merit. We call these logical fallacies, and our students learn how to set them aside and ask, “Is this a good idea?”  

The students’ non-reaction was profound. As adults in the classroom of the world, we know participants are almost always triggered. Public discourse revolves around every angle EXCEPT actual merit. If we want to be virtuous participants in this sphere, we must ask ourselves, “In what way do I need to remove similar logs from my own eyes?” With log-less vision, we can see issues more clearly. 

Another hindrance to our clear vision is social cliques, is when everyone in our perceived tribe seems unified in their position, our objectivity becomes blurred. A prominent topic plagued with this emotional baggage is “school choice.”

School choice has nothing to do with providing more choices. Its singular operative action is to require taxpayers to fund alternatives to the state-provided option.

School Choice is Misleading

Some advocates of “school choice” begin their appeal through statistical arguments. A recent publication opened with the 2022 RealClear Opinion Research poll that argued that “72% of Americans support school choice—the ability of parents to choose the school that best fits their children’s needs.”1 

Why is this significant? First, this communicates the sentiment that “virtually everybody agrees.” This says nothing about whether the viewers should agree with this issue or not. If this premise were asserted to my Challenge A students, they would instinctively reply, “So what?” We call this a bandwagon fallacy.

Additionally, the term “school choice” itself suffers from equivocation. Presently, educational options are legal and available in all fifty states, meaning that proponents equivocate “school choice” with “taxpayer funding for free-market products.”  

School Choice forces Critics to take an “Anti-Choice” Position

Should taxpayers be forced to fund the free market? Moreover, how do legislatures ensure that this money is spent on the type of quality education that is in the public’s best interest (or the government’s interest)? What accountability will ensure the money is spent the way these well-intended policies prescribe? Historically, how well has state government performed this task within their current educational jurisdiction? To what degree could this idea affect the cost and quality of educational options? Does the free market stay ‘free‘ once it is taxpayer-funded? Fundamentally, do we want to expand state-sponsored regulated education or expand actual free-market educational choice?

This IS about a Choice

As the emotions rise among voices on both sides of this issue, remember that the collective conversation does obligate participants to regard sides or emotional manipulation. This issue, like all issues, ought to be about ideas and not the people who hold them. This IS about a choiceLet’s lay aside these culturally acquired discernment liabilities and use those beautiful, classical tools from Challenge A

Check out these blogs and this website for additional information on school choice and educational freedom.

Lauren Gideon profile smiling at the camera

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations.  She has been a home educator since her first student was born 18 years ago. She came to Classical Conversations for support when the student count in their home grew beyond what she thought she could navigate on her own. In addition to homeschooling her seven children, she co-leads community classes that unpack our nation’s founding documents and civic responsibility. However, she is happiest at home, preferably outside, with her husband of 18 years, tackling their newest adventure of building a modern homestead.

  1. “New Poll: Overwhelming Support for School Choice.” American Federation for Children. Accessed on 3/19/2024. https://www.federationforchildren.org/new-poll-72-support-for-school-choice/ ↩︎
Classical Conversations Director of Public Relations Lauren Gideon discusses homeschooling with Jim Mason, President of Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

Curating a Vision for Your Homeschool

Lauren Gideon, Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations®, shares how to curate a vision for your homeschool. Listen as she unpacks her experience of being home-educated and how that has shaped her now as a homeschool parent in this HSLDA Homeschool Talks podcast. Additionally, she and Jim Mason touch on the uniqueness of each child within the family.

Listen to the podcast below to learn how to curate a vision for your family’s education. Enjoy Lauren’s other blogs.

Lauren Gideon profile smiling at the camera

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations.  She has been a home educator since her first student was born 18 years ago. She came to Classical Conversations for support when the student count in their home grew beyond what she thought she could navigate on her own. In addition to homeschooling her seven children, she co-leads community classes that unpack our nation’s founding documents and civic responsibility. However, she is happiest at home, preferably outside, with her husband of 18 years, tackling their newest adventure of building a modern homestead.

four candles lit in a dim room against a blurred out backdrop of a Christmas tree

Advent: Preparing Our Hearts for the Coming of Christ

By Jennifer Bright

As the Christmas season approaches and we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior, our calendar quickly fills with events, activities, gatherings with family and friends, shopping, etc., all good things. Still, we can lose sight of the most essential thing in the busyness: focusing on Christ. He quietly fades into the background of our busy schedule.

What could we do differently this year to intentionally focus on Christ, to prepare our hearts and homes to celebrate His birth?

This month is a time of “advent” to slow down, remember, prepare, and spend moments in dedicated and intentional worship of our Savior, Jesus. We remember His birth on December 25 and prepare for His Second Coming, His Return. Advent is from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming; arrival.” The early Christians were expectantly looking forward to Jesus’ Second Coming, but today, many put the focus on remembering His first coming as a baby in a manger. His first “advent” is not the end of the story.

Two sisters in the Bible, Mary and Martha, in Luke 10:38-42, who both love Jesus, remind us not to become so distracted and overwhelmed with the good things that we miss the best thing, Christ Himself. Martha is like many of us as we prepare for Christmas. We attend many wonderful Christmas events and make memories with our families. We are busy rushing around checking off our to-do list. We have many things to do but leave ourselves physically exhausted and spiritually drained. Mary shows us a more excellent way by realigning, resting, and receiving the Living Word that transforms our souls. She sat with others to listen and learn from Jesus Himself.

“Focusing on the list might give us the Christmas we want, but so often at the expense of what we need. Unless we are intentional, all the shopping, decorating, wrapping, and attending can fill up our calendar but leave our soul empty.”

-Lisa Appello, When We Want a Mary Christmas in a Martha World

Year after year, I have been like Martha. All good things to plan and do, but neglecting the best, like Mary, worshiping and adoring our Savior and King. My challenge to myself and you this Advent season is to prepare our hearts for the arrival of our long-awaited Savior, to be like Mary and worship Him.

We can prepare our hearts for Jesus’s advent through: 

Pray for God’s wisdom about the activities, events, and gatherings we will participate in this season. Will it draw us closer to the Lord? Are they activities to fill our schedule or moments to fill our hearts in the worship of Jesus?

Set aside intentional time to worship, read Scripture, pray, listen to music, and sing songs that lead us to grow deeper in our relationship with Christ. We should not focus on a checklist to complete but should set aside time for true worship, as He has created us to worship Him in spirit and truth. (John 4:23). Also, to join other believers, worshiping and adoring our Savior at church and home. (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Keep our eyes, hearts, and minds on our hope in Christ as redeemed people bought with a price. (1 Corinthians 7:23) We are His children! We should be longing and looking for His Second Coming, awaiting His arrival, and preparing our hearts for that day.

This season, I will reorient myself to the best thing: worship through His word, prayer, and music that brings me to the throne of grace. I will invite others to do so as well. What about you? What will you do this Advent season to prepare your heart and home for Christ’s coming?

Let me leave you with lyrics from Bob Kauflin’s song, “In the First Light.” 

In the first light of a new day
No one knew He had arrived
Things continued as they had been
While a newborn softly cried.
But the heavens wrapped in wonder
Knew the meaning of His birth
In the weakness of a baby
They knew God had come to Earth.

As His mother held him closely,
It was hard to understand
That her baby not yet speaking
Was the Word of God to man.
He would tell them of His kingdom,
But their hearts would not believe
They would hate Him and in anger
They would nail Him to a tree.

But the sadness would be broken
As the song of life arose
And the Firstborn of creation
Would ascend and take his throne.
He had left it to redeem us,
But before His life began
He knew He’d come back not as a baby
But as The Lord of ev’ry man.

Hear the angels as they’re singing
On the morning of His birth
But how much greater will our song be
When He comes again to Earth
When He comes again

Hear the angels as they’re singing
On the morning of His birth
But how much greater will our song be
When He comes again to Earth
When He comes to rule the Earth!
When He comes back, When He comes back
To rule the Earth!

Here are some additional resources to help prepare your heart and home for Christ’s coming:

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.

an overhead shot of a table with pumpkins, fall leaves, and a sign that says "be thankful always"

Thankful to Have Homeschooling Resources

Over this Thanksgiving holiday, have you been blessed by spending more time with family? Have you considered homeschooling but are at a loss for how to get started? Do you have friends that don’t want to send their children back to school? Perhaps these resources could help you get started:

Maybe you want facts and statistics? Check out the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI). You can also catch Dr. Brian D. Ray, President of NHERI, on Refining Rhetoric, a podcast hosted by Robert Bortins, CEO of Classical Conversations.

the American flag blowing in the wind at sunset

Classical Conversations Partners with Legislators to Protect Churches

Classical Conversations joined with legislators around the country to draft and adopt a model policy to further protect churches that host homeschool communities in their facilities. The legislators anonymously adopted the model policy. Classical Conversations will work with state legislators in several key states to get this policy fully adopted, during the next legislative sessions. Do you know if your state has adopted this policy? Reach out to your state legislator to find out. If not, ask them to adopt it for your state.