With big government holding a monopoly on the business of
education in America, many homeschooling parents find it quite
refreshing to find a vice-presidential candidate who wholeheartedly
supports parents' constitutional right to instruct their children
as they see fit.
Most Americans fail to realize that the United States
Constitution says nothing about the government's role in educating
the nation's youth -- yet the state has assumed this position,
often usurping parents' control when it comes to educating
Many parents in Washington, DC, raised great concern early in
Barack Obama's presidency when he opposed a program in the nation's
capital that would allow students to use vouchers for optional
educational opportunities -- freeing them from having to attend the
districts' failing public schools. After aggressively trying to
eliminate the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, the Obama
administration finally relented on the DC school voucher bill in
June, only after great opposition and public pressure.
But when Republican Vice
Presidential candidate Paul Ryan was recently questioned at a
townhall-style event in Ocala, Florida, about whether he believed
homeschooling had a future in America, he had this to say:
"Absolutely, we have friends who do a lot of homeschooling,"
Ryan answered. "In Wisconsin it is very well known, very well used.
You know what? We believe in freedom. And if you believe the best
way to raise your children is to homeschool your children, then God
bless you; and in a free society, you ought to be able to do just
Ryan assured voters of his belief that it is not the
government's place to make decisions about their children's
education above their parents'.
"Look, we don't want to sit in Washington and micromanage your
schools," Ryan insisted. "We don't believe all the best ideas lay
in Washington where bureaucrats micromanage."
In fact, Ryan's policy concerning education drew a stark
contrast to that of the president, which attempted to eliminate
school choice in DC for years.
"We believe in choice; we believe in competition; we believe in
giving parents control over their children's education," Ryan
asserted. "Whether that's getting the kid stuck in an inner-city
school out of a failing school and into a better school, or whether
it gives you the ability and right to take over and control your
child's education by educatingher yourself, that's the kind of
freedom we want you to have and preserve in this country."
Voters pushed to give more money "for the
The major force against homeschooling? Money.
Americans notice every election year that they are urged to vote
for measures that would increase school revenues "for the
children." Campaigns for these tax hikes make voters seem
anti-children or non-patriotic if they don't mark the box
committing more funding to go toward the schools.
But do schools really need more money to make them better and
produce higher-performing students? Taking a look at the figures
for public school expenditure per student in the city of President
Obama's current residence -- Washington, DC -- the answer comes to
a resounding "No."
Statistics do not always show that throwing more money at a
problem makes it any better, and this is certainly the case with
Even though Washington, DC, has a highest per-student
expenditure than any state in the U.S. at $19,698, it also has the
second-lowest high school graduation rate at 58.58 percent -- only
beating out students in Nevada, which has the sixth-lowest
per-student expenditure at $8,321. The nation's capital receives
almost twice as much per student as the national average of
$10,591, defying the argument that more money equals better
education. Similarly, Utah receives the least amount of funding, at
$6,612 per student, yet it is ranked number 13 in high school
graduation rates at 78.6 percent. These are numbers that voters are
unlikely to see on TV ads promoting more school funding.
In some states, more than half of the total tax revenue goes
into public education, but it is never enough. Most voters fail to
realize that most of the funding goes into administrative costs --
money paying personnel that never step foot inside a classroom.
Teachers and textbooks are on the bottom half of the list, while
administrators taking home six digits are perched at the top.
But what accounts for the hostility toward homeschoolers? Every
home learner means a superintendent's district isn't receiving that
per-student expenditure when the funding is coming in (which
averages $10,591 across the nation). School officials would much
rather see homeschool students sitting in their classrooms, along
with the $10k+ they would add to their lucrative budget.
Yet, does this mean that home educators are ripping off the
system by not contributing their fair share into public education?
Actually, no. Their tax dollars through property taxes and other
taxes pay right into the public schools that their children aren't
attending. So they are paying twice for education when they spend
out of their pockets for homeschooling.
When it comes to educating their own children, there is much
contention that schools provide the best means to properly develop
this nation's youth. In a nation that has been engrained in public
education for generations, the public mindset is often against
With about 90 percent of this nation's youth going through
public schools ... and with public school teachers and
administrators continually arguing that students cannot be properly
instructed at home away from the academic and social setting of
conventional schools, there are many skeptics today who believe
public instruction should be mandatory.
But why is public instruction such a dominant force today? Did
it come about because studies were conducted that found the best
educational setting for children?
Public education did not become the norm in the United States
until the late 1800s, and this was not as a result of broadening
intellectualism or heightened socialization standards. This
transformation from homeschooling took place as a result of the
Industrial Revolution, which took parents out of their homes and
into the factories.
Schools were needed to take care of children while their parents
worked in factories, and consequently, schools started resembling
factories themselves, with bells signaling the beginning and end of
operations in order to condition students for future factory
Other proponents of mandatory public education maintain that
schools prepare them for the real world, unlike home instruction.
Nowhere in America -- besides its schools -- do we find
age-segregated institutions fenced in and separated from outlying
On the other hand, home instructors average involving their
students in five activities per week outside the home, where they
interact with society through field trips and other outings. They
regularly visit fire stations, banks, parks, stores, government
offices, gyms and museums to interact with the community and
experience the real world.
The drive from the classroom to the family
Even though research shows that homeschoolers perform markedly
better academically and demonstrate better social skills than their
publicly schooled counterparts, most home educators note religious
reasons as the number-one determinant behind their decisions to
homeschool, believing that the climate within school gates is
hostile to their faith.
With Christians accounting for more than 90 percent of the
homeschooling population in America, they believe that the
political climate in public schools is intolerant of children's
faith, which they see as under attack. They feel that moral
behavior is often mocked in favor of moral relativism, which tells
students to make up their own truths and single out as bigots those
who believe in right and wrong based on their faith.
Many homeschoolers end up agreeing with former U.S. President
Theodore Roosevelt, who said, "To educate a man in mind and not in
morals is to educate a menace to society."