School Choice has Come to Louisiana

School Choice Has Come To Louisiana

By Jennifer Bright

Each year, more and more states are embracing school choice options through education savings accounts (ESAs) and school voucher legislation. Alabama was the first state to pass a universal school choice bill in 2024! Louisiana will not be far behind as it is being debated this week in the Louisiana Senate.

As private homeschoolers in Louisiana, why should we be concerned about ESAs or school voucher legislation? Statistically, Louisiana has always been near or at the bottom in education as compared to the other fifty states. For example, in 2023, Louisiana ranked 46th. The question that is often asked is, why wouldn’t we support these school choice options? Wouldn’t ESAs help lift Louisiana students from the bottom?

School Choice

‘School choice’ is often referred to as educational choice, educational options, parent choice, etc., in which taxpayer-funded monies are channeled through school vouchers, educational savings accounts, educational empowerment scholarships, tax credits, etc., (which sound and look enticing) for parents to choose the educational option that they believe is best for their child(ren). Louisiana’s version, the Giving All True Opportunity to Rise (LA GATOR) scholarship program, is being decided this week at the capital.

Government Monies—Government Regulation

As with all government monies, there will be regulations, rules, accountability, and control. Currently, 13% of Louisiana school districts receive their funding from the Federal Government, and the rest is divided between the state’s budget and our local sales and property taxes.

How will this new legislation affect private homeschoolers in Louisiana? From HB 745, section 4037.5. (Schools and service providers; eligibility; participation), private homeschoolers who register either as a home study program or a nonpublic school not seeking state approval are not eligible to participate or concurrently enroll in the LA GATOR scholarship program. The LA GATOR scholarship program sets up a new class of government-funded students, just like Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts. So currently, private homeschoolers will not be affected.

            “When parents take these funds, they sign a statement that they are no longer homeschooling, even if they may be educating at home. As a result, accepting ESA funds places the student in a new category as an ESA student. Because students are no longer privately funded homeschool students, but instead publicly funded ESA students, government regulation inevitably follows and impacts the education these students receive.”[1]

It may not affect private homeschoolers today, it could in the future. The current bill requires all students who participate in the LA GATOR scholarship program to comply with all program requirements (including yearly testing). But what about next year or the year after, how will the government change or modify the program requirements?

Other States’ ESA Programs and Problems

Let’s look at a couple of other states that have drunk from the well of ESAs, like  Arizona and West Virginia. Budgets have blown up! There is an administrative nightmare and a lack of accountability. Politicians and educational leaders are looking for solutions to fix the failed experiment.

Resist the Temptation

As Leigh Bortins shares in this article,

            Parents are presented with “choices” that aren’t really choices at all.” And “Receiving one-time government money with no strings attached makes the second, third, and fourth times easier with strings attached. With the shekels come the shackles.” So, “we must…resist the temptation posed by government funding.”

Educate Yourself

Think through these questions from Classical Conversations® Educational Freedom website, as you consider who do you want to control your homeschool—you or the government?

  • Do you want the state involved in your homeschooling on any level?
  • Is accepting any financial assistance from the state a slippery slope?
  • Where does the money come from?
  • Would it be more beneficial for homeschoolers to keep their education tax money rather than fund the Department of Education with that money?
  • In your state, are you still classified and protected as a homeschooler if you receive government funding?
  • Is making your own curriculum decisions important to you, or would you prefer the Department of Education to assume oversight in those decisions?
  • What historical examples can you think of where the government was involved in decisions like this? What were the initial intentions? Were the outcomes positive or negative, and how accurately did they reflect those initial intentions?

In Louisiana, there are currently over 45,000 children being home educated. If we were our own school district, we would be the second largest in the state! Just remember, the state government (and federal) will do whatever it can to bring us under its control, and ESAs are just one of their avenues. We need to stand firm against any governmental encroachment on our freedoms to direct our children’s education. We, as parents, know what is best for our children.

The Homeschool Freedom Action Center website is here to help you stay informed and to help families educate themselves on what true educational freedom is!

Jennifer Bright profile headshot

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] “Educational Savings Account.” Accessed 4/15/2024. https://classicalconversations.widen.net/s/swkgl26rw7?__hstc=87463879.1d548548b58a4ef2d8bb0d564a005567.1638826400930.1670868123213.1670943201710.270&__hssc=&__hsfp=&hsCtaTracking=d9ec90d4-0a2d-4d25-bcbb-c8c3b64bb33d%7Cbc6a2c98-eeed-4bdf-adba-2ef77c9a312a

Indoctrination

What is Indoctrination?

By Olivia Abernathy

Olivia Abernathy is a current Challenge III student in Classical Conversations®. She has been a part of CC for over a decade. Olivia enjoys books, writing fiction and nonfiction, theatre, and the mountains. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of her community newsletter. Olivia hopes to own and run her own creative arts magazine. Ultimately, she will go where the Lord leads her.

People often use the word “indoctrination” in our culture today. Democrats say that Republicans are indoctrinating children with conservative beliefs, and the Republicans throw it right back at them. What do we mean when we say somebody’s “indoctrinating” someone else? What makes us dislike the idea of indoctrination?

Where did the word “indoctrination” come from?

According to the American Enterprise Institute, when the verb “indoctrinate” first appeared in 17th-century writings, it merely meant “to teach.” Its meaning came from the Latin “docēre,” “to teach” or “to instruct.” It wasn’t until the 19th and 20th centuries that the modern connotation entered our language. “During the early part of the 20th century, the word’s pejorative meaning entered common parlance as a synonym for ‘brainwashing,’ especially regarding the inculcation of sectarian and partisan doctrines,” 1 says the aforementioned article.

Today’s meaning of indoctrination

Indoctrination, defined by the Random House College Dictionary, means “to instruct in a doctrine or ideology” or “to imbue a person with learning.” This definition intends to instill in someone certain principles or beliefs, specifically those that are not universally held. Imbue” is also interesting because “imbue” means inspiring someone with knowledge or saturating them with feelings.

Today, indoctrination has a negative connotation. CNN says, “…there’s a growing political argument on the right that children must be protected from ‘indoctrination’ by the government in schools…2 In this example, people usually use the word about children in the public school system. We say children are being “indoctrinated” with things we disagree with as part of a plot, that they’re being “conditioned” to accept certain things as fact whether or not they are factual. Is this true? Possibly. Is this a bad thing? Yes, but not for the reason you think I’m about to say.

The consequences of indoctrination

To indoctrinate someone is to instill in them the beliefs of your religion or social group. When you firmly believe something is true, it’s reasonable to want others to come to know the truth (or what you believe the truth is). However, if we genuinely want to have an open mind and exercise critical thinking—if we want that for our children as well—we must expose our children to all sides of an issue, even the parts we might disagree with.

In his book Why ProLife?: Caring for the Unborn and Their Mothers, Randy Alcorn shares how he once presented the pro-life case to a class of high school students. After Alcorn’s presentation, the teacher admitted that he had never actually heard the pro-life case. His exposure had only been to the pro-choice point of view. Alcorn states that the teacher “had uncritically accepted the pro-choice position from others, and his students had done the same.3 Is this the kind of nation we want to live in? I’m not even talking about pro-life versus pro-choice. I’m talking about a nation where a 55-year-old social studies teacher was only exposed to ONE point of view on a very controversial topic.

Another possible consequence of indoctrination is that children may not learn to question perspectives. In indoctrinating children, educators often teach them to accept a perspective as fact. Students need to develop the skills of thinking through what they see and hear and conducting more in-depth research to discover the truth. No matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, you don’t want to accept things unquestioningly without thought or research.

Did someone make the moon out of cheese?

Children are naturally very trusting. When I was a child, it would never occur to me to question anything my parents said was fact. If my mother had told me the moon was made of cheese, I would probably have believed her. As I’ve moved forward in my classical education, I’ve been taught to look at all sides of an issue, to question the things I’m taught, and encouraged to do research. I’m grateful for the education I’ve received, which regularly involves engaging in difficult conversations and researching many points of view. But only some children have this opportunity.

“Teach” vs. “Indoctrinate”

The definition of “teach” is “to impart knowledge or skill.” What is the difference between “teach” and “indoctrinate?”. The difference is that “indoctrinate” means you only present the thoughts and ideas of a specific group or system. In contrast, the word “teach” imposes no limit on the type or amount of ideas that one can teach.

In essence, we don’t want to merely indoctrinate our children. We want to teach them, give them the freedom to think their thoughts, and use critical thinking skills to carefully ponder both sides of an issue. People should think freely. They should not feel wrong for challenging previous teachings. In a recent podcast, Robert Bortins discussed the results of a survey showing how Gen Z males are fighting indoctrination.

In Conclusion

Indoctrination is filling a child’s mind with a specific belief system or ideology—almost always while condemning other points of view. Are we called to raise our children this way? It may be easy to teach them only what we believe, but it is far better to expose them to all sides of an issue and how to think about it for themselves. Let us be teachers, teachers of critical thinking, teachers of open-mindedness, teachers of brilliant young minds, and let us not be advocates of indoctrination. The American Enterprise Institute says it best: “The educational system is key to the modern state’s human and social infrastructure, and schools must fulfill their responsibility…”4

Olivian Abernathy

Olivia Abernathy is seventeen years old and a current Challenge 3 student in Classical Conversations. She enjoys books, writing fiction and nonfiction, theatre, and the mountains. Olivia is the founder and editor-in-chief of her campus newsletter. She hopes to one day own and run her own creative arts magazine, but in the end, she will go where the Lord leads her.

Footnotes

  1. Ben-Chaim, Micheal. “How Schools Indoctrinate and How They Can Educate.” American Enterprise Institute, https://www.aei.org/research-products/report/how-schools-indoctrinate-and-how-they-can-educate/. Accessed 22 February 2024. ↩︎
  2. Wolf, Zachary B. “The growing movement to protect children from their government.” CNN, 9 March 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/09/politics/education-government-role-what-matters/index.html. Accessed 22 February 2024. ↩︎
  3. Alcorn, Randy. Why ProLife? Sandy, OR. Eternal Perspective Ministries, 2004. ↩︎
  4. Ben-Chaim, Micheal. “How Schools Indoctrinate and How They Can Educate.” American Enterprise Institute, https://www.aei.org/research-products/report/how-schools-indoctrinate-and-how-they-can-educate/. Accessed 22 February 2024. ↩︎
Informed Citizenry

Informed Citizenry Limits Unintended Consequences

Robert Bortins reminds us in this episode of “Refining Rhetoric” the importance of an informed citizenry and the need for engagement in tackling the issues of today. With the quick pace of life and a faster pace of information, it can be difficult, if not overwhelming, to keep up with it all.

Chris Blackburn and Robert’s quick chat might help you think through how education can affect foreign policy. They explore the consequences of U.S. payments to Iran—linking them to Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, rising oil prices, and inflation.

Engaged and Informed Citizenry

Let’s not sit on the sidelines. Let’s stay informed and involved!

How?

Check out this episode below. Listen to other episodes of Refining Rhetoric.

Have You Noticed the New Format?

There is a new format for the Refining Rhetoric podcast. In the first week, Robert interviews a Christian leader, whether they are a spiritual leader, in the business sector, engaging in the culture war, or active in the political arena. The following week, the discussion revolves around a current event headline and crypto news.

Don’t miss out on these resources and opportunities as an engaged and informed citizen. You can encourage other people to stay informed and involved, as well.

Robert Bortins, CEO of Classical Conversations profile headshot

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.

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.

A woman talking on the phone with a concerned expression, with text that says "Critical race theory? Revisionist history? Explicit sex education? Gender confusion? Not on my watch! Now streaming!

Truth & Lies in American Education – A Documentary

By Jennifer Bright

Truth & Lies in American Education – A Documentary exposes an alarming agenda in American education.

As a young mother of two, April Few was challenged by her mother-in-law to examine and explore what was happening in her local public school.

Alarming Discoveries Made in American Education

Through a series of interviews with American educational experts, April makes some alarming discoveries regarding agendas kept hidden from the eyes of students and parents like her.

Here are some of the questions she asks:

  • Are American public schools forming a wedge between parents and children?
  • Are children being trained to become political activists for the political left?
  • What is the true aim of so-called comprehensive sexuality education?
  • How much transgender influence is there in government schools?
  • How is Critical Race Theory indoctrinating American children?
  • Is there a federal education scheme to control the nation’s workforce?

This documentary produced by U.S. Parents Involved in Education (USPIE) aims to educate parents of school-aged children about the indoctrination in our American government schools.

Trailer of Truth & Lies in American Education – A Documentary exposes the hidden agenda of American public schools

Share this with friends and neighbors who need to hear this message of what is truly going on in the government schools!

Look at what our government schools are really teaching.

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.

A dad reads a book to his two boys sitting on a couch

Does School Choice Mean Education Freedom?

By attorney and reporter Kevin Novak

The following was published in the Western Journal on August 27, 2022, and is a credible source for thinking through the issues surrounding “school choice and education freedom. The views expressed in this opinion article are those of the author and are not necessarily shared or endorsed by the website owners.

In our current day, school choice is a popular topic for parents and voters to consider, especially with rising inflation, our current environment post-Covid, and the legislative-sessional season. We are all presented with various cases regarding government funding for education. But with the prospect of financial aid comes multiple elements that aren’t being said.

Kevin Novak poses legitimate questions regarding school choice in the following article, including lowered taxes, privatized education, and educational freedom.

“Consider these inquiries. If a legislature has the present ability to pass ‘school choice’ legislation, why does it not instead pass legislation that lowers taxes? In conjunction, if a legislature has the present ability to pass school choice legislation, and it being the case that many children have escaped the civil government school system, why does it not instead decrease spending on civil government education? And how would passing more school choice laws produce more financial freedom for people or more thought freedom for children?”

Read the full article here.

Also, read other articles about school choice and educational freedom here.

a stature of George Washington

Stop Being Polite! How Civility Can Save Our Country

Can Education Save Civility?

“A refugee from the federal government,” Alexandra grew up in a home that prioritized politeness and viewed education as a lifestyle. Yet when she began working for the U.S. Department of Education, Alexandra soon discovered that her coworkers used politeness for corruption and also didn’t care about education. How can civility save our nation?

Politeness vs. Civility

In this conversation, Alexandra Hudson, award-winning journalist, speaker, and author discusses:

  • her disillusionment with the Department of Education
  • how to respect someone while sharing hard truths
  • the difference between politeness and civility
  • why we need less politeness and more civility in the world
  • why the left and right don’t share the same vision
  • not living a boxed life
  • how incivility hurts both others and ourselves
  • how one individual can start a quiet revolution that can change the world
  • how the classical model of education can be used to teach future generations the art of being civil.
Alexandra Hudson, author of The Soul of Civility: Timeless Principles to Heal Society and Ourselves, originally aired on Dec 13, 2023. You can find a discount code for Alexandra’s book in the podcast’s show notes. Check out other freedom-loving episodes of Refining Rhetoric.

Robert Bortins is the CEO of Classical Conversations® and the host of Refining RhetoricThe 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.

a person holding up a cardboard sign that says "Act Now"

Stand Against Oklahoma Bill HB 4130 Requiring Permission to Homeschool

By Elise DeYoung

Recently, House Bill 4130 was introduced to regulate homeschool families in Oklahoma. Americans must strongly oppose this bill to restrict and regulate families, because its narrative of abuse in homeschools is fabricated. This bill would introduce extreme government overreach into the realm of home education.

Homeschoolers have the fundamental right of autonomy to educate and disciple their children apart from state overreach. A more detailed analysis of this bill is coming, but due to urgency of action, here are some reasons to oppose it:

  1. Children do not belong to the state, but to the parents.
  2. Therefore, the Civil government has no authority or jurisdiction over homeschooling.
  3. The reasons for restricting and regulating homeschooling are baselessly supported, fueled by fear tactics.
  4. If passed, the state will require social security numbers and background checks for the purpose of tracking every home resident.
  5. If passed, parents may be subjected to home inspection visits.

For these reasons, we’d like to stand with our friends at HSLDA and oppose Rep. Amanda Swope’s bill. 

To join our efforts opposing HB 4130, please contact Rep. Amanda Swope to let her know that you oppose this bill.

Join the Fight to Keep Your Homeschool Freedoms:

  1. Tips For Contacting Your Lawmakers
  2. Letter and Phone Content Template
  3. Join the Oklahoma Capitol Day 2024
  4. Find out more about Constitutional Home Educators Alliance

Elise DeYoung is a Public Relations and Communications Associate and 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!

a train station sign that says "Harvard"

Harvard’s Dilemma

By Robert Bortins

In a society where bad ideas have infiltrated even our most prestigious universities, it is essential that we stand up for truth in thought and excellence in education. 

Former Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned due to significant public pressure after she failed to condemn antisemitic speech on campus and was discovered to have committed many acts of plagiarism throughout her professional career. Sadly, the corruption at Harvard will outlive Gay’s presidency as the school continues to promote critical theory and DIE initiatives. 

In Episode 78 of ‘Refining Rhetoric,’ I explore the implications of woke hiring and firing, low academic standards, and a godless worldview at our universities and throughout our broader culture. Also, I highlight the important role Christians have in speaking out against these dangerous ideas while holding fast to Biblical truth and excellence. 

This podcast originally aired on Jan. 10, 2024. Check out other freedom-loving episodes of Refining Rhetoric.

Robert Bortins is the CEO of Classical Conversations® and the host of Refining RhetoricThe 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.