Homeschool Resources

Gluten-Free Table At A Potluck – Homeschool Resources

By Lauren Gideon

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

An Illustration From My Gluten-Free Friends

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

I also bet some are 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 neighbors…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 have ever hung out with someone like this who has had accidental gluten contamination, you know why.)

Specifically, 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 Homeschooling?

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, no state-funded options are available for those who have chosen to homeschool.

Do you know what they DO have? They serve 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.”

Do you know what happens to our table when this is our outlook? 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 will create better options, and more homeschool resources for the next generation

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

Lauren is a regular contributor. You can find Lauren’s other blogs here.

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.