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 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

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.

an interior shot the dome of a state capitol building with text that says "Michigan Capitol Day, October 4, 2023"

Michigan Capitol Day: October 4, 2023

Capitol Days, Legislative Days, Homeschool Days at the Capitol, and other similar events foster communication between parents and their elected representatives. This is a great opportunity for you to teach your children the importance of the legislative process and help them mature into civic leaders who will protect American freedoms.

Next month, on October 4, Michigan families will be able to convene at the Capitol for Day at the Dome to grow and engage the legislative process.

To find out how you can participate, please contact the Michigan Christian Homeschool Network for more information.

To find out more about your state’s upcoming the Freedom Action Center Days at the Capitol Schedule.

a man teaches a classroom full of middle-school aged students

7 Resources to Help You Rethink School Choice

By Edward Murray

For some time now, school choice has been a hot topic—and honestly, in my opinion, for good reason. I’m a product of government-funded schooling, and I’ve been a harsh critic of the institution since before I even started having kids.

I Am Not Binding Consciences or Condemning

Now let me clarify as I’ve done before:

I am in no way trying to condemn or bind anyone’s conscience here.

I am in no way saying you are in sin for choosing public schooling, and I am not condemning your reasons for doing so.

I think there are many well-intentioned families out there who attend public schools (I know and have been impacted by many), and it’s ok to disagree.

But There are Many Issues to Consider

However, there are many issues (historical, systemic, and immanent) with public-funded schools, and many states are looking for more ways to offer people a way out. Ergo, many families are eager to receive government funding to move into other educational options.

Hopefully, at least at this point, you see the irony of leaving government-funded schools for the opportunity to attend government-funded schools . . .

In short, “school choice” (i.e., using taxpayer state funds to pay for private education [especially homeschooling]) is worth rethinking. To aid you in this process, here are 7 resources on the topic you should consider:

1. Parental Rights vs. Government Responsibility – Where to Draw the Line with William Estrada

(Spotify)

2. ESAs: What You Need to Know with Israel Wayne

(Spotify)

3. Educational Choice vs. School Choice with E. Ray Moore

(Spotify)

4. Educational Vouchers v. Free Market Education, with Leigh Bortins

(Spotify)

5. I Run a Private School and am Against School Vouchers. Here’s Why (Article)

6. School Choice and Your Child’s Tuition (Article)

7. Vouchers: Sheckles with Shackles (Free pdf)

Edward Murray currently serves as Manager of Special Projects & Policy Research for Classical Conversations and The Homeschool Freedom Action Center. 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.

The Thorn of School Choice

Why Liberty Matters

June 14, 2016 BY DR. MARLENE MCMILLAN

Even back in 2016, Why Liberty Matters’ Dr. Marlene McMillian was warning us about how school vouchers and educational grants can be clever and deceitful.

She writes: “He who pays controls. This is an immutable law of the universe. You cannot take government money without government control. Whether the civil government puts the money in your front pocket, your back pocket, direct deposit or you have to take the check to the bank, it is still government money. As soon as your ‘private’ school accepts government money, it becomes a government school. Oh yes, the ‘Private School’ sign may still be out front, but it is ‘Private in name only.’”

She asserts the future cost “. . . is incalculable” and ponders, “What will it cost future generations to get out from under government dependency? The real question should be: Will they ever have the will, the courage, or be able to undo generations of conditioning to government dependency?”

Dr. McMillian challenges us to “[think] about the statement ‘Education dollars should follow the child to the school of parent’s choice . . . ’ and understand that this means ‘Civil government regulation should follow the child to the school of parent’s choice.’ Parents and children will never have freedom, let alone liberty, as long as they are government dependents.”

Further sounding the alarm, she writes, “If your goal is not liberty, you get tyranny by default.”

Read more here.

The Free-Market Education Table at the Potluck

By Lauren Gideon

As I travel from state to state I find there are two tables of homeschool resources. Those that are total free-market options, and those that are fully or partially taxpayer funded. These resources could be tutoring services, classes, extracurricular activities, sports, fine-arts, and so much more. What I have found remarkably interesting is just like a gluten-free table, free-market options are either spars or plentiful; bland or diverse.

An Illustration From My Gluten-Free Friends

Nearly, every potluck I attend has an accommodating table, based on the reality that a large segment of our population has chosen to abstain from gluten. We know there are a spectrum of reasons. Nearly every gluten-free consumer has some moderate to severe negative consequence they are trying to avoid, and yet others take a proactive approach.

I also bet there are some on the train because… well, they get on all trains.

Motivations aside, in my lifetime the potluck scene has completely changed to accommodate this demographic.

Ok, nothing against my anti-glutenomist friends… If I still have you, follow me with the illustration.

The gluten-free consumer made a decision (forced or voluntary) that altered a major portion of their life. They have their position prior to any potluck. Once there, they are either delighted or depressed with the variety of gluten-free options. The most strict in this demographic choose only from this table. Rarely in their disappointment do they ever compromise and decide to browse the non-gluten free selection. (If you know someone like this who has had accidental gluten contamination, you know why).

To be specific, if there is no cake on the gf table, the consumer does not reluctantly go to the other table to get their cake, they simply go without cake. If this happens enough times, one of two things will probably happen. The friends and family of this individual will have compassion and bake a diet-friendly cake, or the consumer will get frustrated enough to bake their own cake.

How in the world does this intersect with home-schooling?

As we evaluate options on the two tables, we must first step back and evaluate our commitment to the homeschool resource “diet.”  What are the pros and cons of only consuming free-market options? Are there any consequences to sampling options from the subsidized table if you don’t find what you like in the free-market? Some states provide an “all or nothing” choice. In these states, for those that have chosen to homeschool, no state funded options are available.

Do you know what they DO have? They are serving a feast of quality, diverse, competitive, free-market services. How do they have such options? There you will find a rich legacy of groups and individuals who found a way to make a gf cake – by that I mean a robust free-market buffet because the consumers in the state required that accommodation. In other circumstances we find that families solved their own dilemmas with conviction and creativity.

In Many States the Free-Market Table is Lacking

If you are in a state like mine, the free-market table is lacking. One reason this is true is due to the fact that the other table is easily accessible. Families discouraged by the free-market are welcome to browse the state-funded options. At first glance, this seems warm and hospitable. Consumers say things like, “I do not have a choice, the option I wanted (or a quality version of this option) was not available on the free-market.

When this is our outlook, do you know what happens to our table? Nothing. It stays sparse and bland.

What will drive change? The options are the following:

(1) Families will set their “diet” and commit to it before they ever attend the potluck,

(2) Families will ONLY chose the bland options,

Or

(3) Families willcreate better options for the next generation.

We all have a choice, and as we all know; all choices yield outcomes.

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.

A closeup of the American flag during sunset hour

Independence

By Lauren Gideon

It is that time of year again. Grills are lit, parades are attended, and picnics and fireworks have brought families and communities together. July 4th elicits my mixed sentiments. Inevitably, we are drawn into the topic of comparison. Side by side, we attend to the world leading up to 1776 and the world in which we now reside. How are they the same; how are they different?

In years prior, I had feelings of reluctance to celebrate the historic overthrow of tyranny when it seemed our own generation’s tides of control were on the rise. My frustrations were aimed metaphorically far, far away at vague, distant targets of politicians, invasive policies, and oppressive enforcement agencies. Tyranny, freedom, independence; as I turn these ideas over and over in my mind, ideas and words take on different flavors. We all inherited the paradigm we live in, and sometimes we do not realize the layers and connections to the foundation we stand on and live in. So, join me in this thought exercise.

Directly or Indirectly Opposed to Tyranny?

If the War for Independence truly was what it claimed to be, the war was in opposition to tyranny, but not directly. Tyranny is more directly the inverse of freedom. The word “freedom” is a math word. It is most similar to the idea of zero. The only way to define zero is to say what it is not. You can have zero money, zero time, zero belongings, but without a unit of measurement, zero is an extremely abstract concept. Freedom is this same idea of zero. It is the articulation of zero chains, zero oppression, zero infringements, zero force, zero fraud. Freedom is a big beautiful nothing!

What is Independence?

So then, what is independence? And how is it related? To understand and appreciate independence, we must also attend to its inverse as well. If independence is what we love, the inverse is the threat to that object of our love. Some have even postulated that we have an obligation to hate the thing that is a threat to what we love. And what is this imminent threat? Dependency.

The founding generation were students of historical patterns. They realized that these lines run parallel. To be free, one could not be dependent. Thus, they reluctantly resolved to pursue, teach, and propagate independence as their door to freedom.  

The scary reality is that the path they walked has room for two-way traffic. If independence is the path toward freedom, dependency is the path back toward tyranny and totalitarianism. So, what does state dependency look like? In its simplest form, it is the public’s tolerance of the use of collective, regulated resources to supply individual needs. Our generation’s oversight is that the threat of dependency is not fresh in our minds. We have grown ignorant, distracted, apathetic, and negligent in keeping our guard up against the threat of dependency. Ideas of entitlement, “school choice,” “public-private partnership,” subsidies, and government grants are all modern manifestations of our collective, tacit-yet-obvious approval of state dependency.

Being opposed to dependency does not carry the same exciting, unifying battle cry that “opposing the tyrants” offers. Why is that? It is easy to oppose some ugly dragon in a castle far, far away. It is much more difficult to come to terms with the tiny, toxic terrors living in our own hearts and communities. This breed of dragons pokes its little head out on Election Day when we vote for the most benevolent Caesars promising to open the coffers and fund the voter or the voter’s pet project with the collective’s treasury. With each locus in which we tolerate this level of state “partnership,” we are actually surrendering more and more real estate from the domain of the free to the domain of the captured. Sure, the cost of independence is expensive, but what is the value of freedom? And what should we be willing to pay to expand and preserve it for generations to come?

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.

three young women celebrate reaching the top of a mountain, overlooking a beautiful coastline on a sunny day

Timeshares and Education

By Lauren Gideon 

Many people in America own timeshares or at least have been to one of those awful presentations. The concept is simple. Merriam-Webster defines a timeshare as “an agreement or arrangement in which parties share the ownership of or right to use property (as a resort condominium) and that provides for occupation by each party especially for periods of less than a year.”

The concept at hand regards how investors share ownership and rights to property. For many Americans, this is a tolerable relationship where all parties get pages of fine print and give their informed consent.

Does Joint Ownership Actually Exist?

Here is my question, though: Does joint ownership actually exist? In 1828, in the first edition of Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, ownership was defined as “property; exclusive right of possession; legal or just claim or title.”

The difference here is collective ownership vs. individual ownership. They sound similar, but they are, in fact, mutually exclusive. Once a collective owns something, the individual does not. And once an individual owns something, then the collective does not have ownership.

Culturally, we like the concept of collective ownership. Why? Vacations are both valuable and expensive. They are genuinely valuable to relationships, to mental health, toward stepping away from life to gain perspective, to see new places, and to gain education.

So many good things come from vacations. If time and money allow, one could say vacations are essential. For most families, the friction does not come from whether we should take a vacation but from the question: “How are we going to pay for a vacation?”

Enter the timeshare industry, which has capitalized on the strain between the value of vacation vs. the expense. The presentations capitalize on this tension and propose a solution: shared ownership. This proposal stems from the relationship between investing and ownership. (I don’t know of any timeshare holder that actually thinks they have exclusive right of possession).

A Multiplicity of Ownership Means No Individual Ownership

This leads me to my point: a multiplicity of ownership means no individual ownership. Collective owners or investors are merely stakeholders. They each have a vote and a voice, but they are still subject to the collective’s will.

The stakeholder relationship works in many common relationships where responsible parties can tolerate giving up individual ownership. Roads, city ordinances, and vacation abodes are some of our collectively shared possessions.

But what about those central responsibilities we possess? When is deferring to the stakeholder option an abdication of responsibility? For instance, scripture indirectly warns about having outside stakeholders in a marriage (Gen. 2:24). No outsider should have a vote in your marriage. The couple answers to God alone; therefore, it is imperative that they do not sell out to other investors that do not share in their unique and personal responsibility.

This same idea can apply to very private matters of the human experience. As James Madison said,

          “More sparingly should this praise be allowed to a government, where a man’s religious rights are violated by penalties, or fettered by tests, or taxed by a hierarchy. Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that, being a natural and inalienable right. To guard a man’s house as his castle, to pay public and enforce private debts with the most exact faith, can give no title to invade a man’s conscience which is more sacred than his castle, or to withhold from it that debt of protection, for which the public faith is pledged, by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact.

To summarize, there should be no stakeholders in someone’s religion or conscience. Madison repeatedly warned against trampling the private property (exclusive, individual ownership) of someone’s conscience.

How Do We Categorize Our Family’s Education?

Here is our closing question. How do we categorize our family’s education? Is it common or sacred? Is it public or private? Referring back to the vacation dilemma—education is also an essential commodity. It is more essential than a vacation, and given our budget limitations, the appeal to invest with multiple investors is strong.

The unfortunate consequence with outside investors is that—by definition—you have forfeited exclusive ownership. Individual ownership and collective ownership are mutually exclusive. Moreover, stewardship of your family’s education belongs to you at the end of the day. It cannot be outsourced. Our ownership in this field is sacred, and we all bear personal responsibility. This is the message we should aim to communicate to future generations.

            Romans 12:2–3: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

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.