Fall 2019 / Brenda Brown
Not many of us today worry when we are at the park with our children or shopping for groceries in the middle of the day that we are going to be questioned about why our children are not in school. We don’t live in fear that a truancy officer might be knocking at our door demanding answers.
With more than 90,688 homeschools representing approximately 226,720 students in the 2018-2019 school year, the modern homeschool movement in North Carolina has grown at an annual compound growth rate of sixteen percent per year over the past thirty years. Homeschool students represent thirteen percent of the total North Carolina school population. Find these and other up-to-date statistics on the NCHE website.
We are so appreciative of those early homeschool pioneers in our state who bore the burden of fighting for legality. Their courage and tenacity are why we have such freedom to homeschool in our state today. But with these modern homeschooling freedoms come the responsibility to protect these freedoms for the future. Freedom is always precarious; it should never be taken for granted. Once freedom is obtained it is up to each generation to maintain that freedom. As Ronald Reagan reminded us, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” Increasing numbers of homeschoolers may trigger efforts to curb our freedom, heighten regulations, and increase oversight. It is our duty to continue the fight to keep the freedom that the homeschool pioneers fought to obtain.
How do we continue that fight?
- Register to vote, and exercise your duty to vote. Franklin D. Roosevelt reminded us, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves. And the only way they could do this is by not voting.” So if you aren’t sure that you are registered or you want to ensure your voter information is correct, you can find that information on the State Board of Elections site: https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/. If you aren’t registered to vote, a registration form can be found on the ncsbe.gov site. This form can be mailed, emailed, faxed, or delivered in person to your county board of elections. The address for the county boards of election can be accessed from the ncsbe.gov site also.
- Research candidates who are running for office, and support those who believe in a parent’s right to direct the education of their children. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government.” So it is our duty to inform ourselves and cast a well-informed vote.
- Teach our children civics and how to put that education into action. Research paints a bleak picture of civics literacy in our country today. A 2016 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that only twenty-six percent of respondents could name all three branches of government. A similar survey by the same group in 2015 found that twelve percent of Americans thought that the Bill of Rights included the right to own a pet. These findings come with dire consequences for a people who are to govern themselves. We cannot rightly govern if we do not understand the Constitution.
What constitutes a good civics education? Key components include instruction in our founding documents and in the processes of our government, discussion of current events, simulations of procedures and processes, and government in action. Something as simple as taking your child with you to vote is teaching them to take that duty seriously. There are other great programs for homeschoolers such as Generation Joshua clubs and TeenPact that teach homeschoolers to engage in the political process in an enjoyable way. Generation Joshua also has intensives that teach about the branches of government realistically in an interesting manner as well as week-long camps. Ronald Reagan advised, “We the people tell the government what to do. It doesn’t tell us.” We are responsible for relaying to the government that we want to be free to educate our children as we see fit. To accomplish that goal, we must be registered to vote, educate ourselves on the candidates running, and then exercise that duty to vote. We are also responsible to educate our children, the next generation, to do the same. That’s how we tell the government what to do. That’s how we protect this precious freedom to educate our children through homeschooling.
Brenda taught public school, private school, and at a community college before beginning the homeschool journey. She has homeschooled her sons Aaron and Benjamin for the last twelve years. She considers homeschooling one of the greatest joys of her life and is passionately committed to the fight to preserve our freedom to educate our children at home.