“The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness…” Part Two of Two

The following two-part series is from the book Homeschooling in Alaska by Interior Alaskan Teresa Hanson, M. Ed.  It is copied here with her kind permission.  Part one can be read by clicking here.  Free copies of this book are available by e-mailing northstarindependents(at)gmail(dot)com. 

“The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness…”

From the Book Homeschooling in Alaska by Teresa Hanson

One argument points out that the school districts use the home-schooled children to increase the amount of dollars they get from the state. Part of this money finances the public home education program; the rest finances the expenses of traditional public school education.

Many families home school their children because they do not believe in, or agree with, the public school system. Some believe that the public schools are immoral and Godless institutions, while other non-believers consider the public schools too religious.[1] Others consider the schools anti-progressive, or not child-centered enough. Whatever the angle, helping fund these institutions may be against their moral, faith, or pedagogical values. By taking state money for their own home schooling, they are actually supporting the public school system with which they disagree.

Others disagree solely on the grounds of personal responsibility. These parents believe that the education of children is the complete responsibility of the parents. They claim that these public programs create greater dependency, instead of increasing personal responsibility. When families accept state funds for home education, they are mandating “civil government to be disobedient to God by requiring it to assume responsibilities which God never gave to civil government.”[2]

Home school advocates, who have fought to gain the freedoms Alaskans enjoy, argue that by embracing tax-funded home education, home schoolers weaken their position for future battles. Alaskans are breaking new ground for home schoolers all over the country. It may be hard to defend the legitimacy of independent home schools when so many are willing to abandon the least restrictive home school law in the country, in favor of public subsidy and government control.[3]

People who oppose governmental control believe that parents are abdicating their responsibility of educating their children by allowing the state to pay for it. Some say that it is the same as taking welfare.[4] They warn that the state legislature will eventually demand something in return for the money they are pouring into these special programs. That usually means some sort of governmental control over the home schoolers’ lives.

Some claim that public schools, who are not meeting national academic guidelines, are using the standardized test scores of the home schooled children to help the whole school district look good, because home schoolers traditionally test higher than mainstream public school students. [5]

Finally, the private home schoolers, who joined these public programs, drove up the cost of education in the State of Alaska. Many have said that they were finally getting something for all the tax money they paid into the system. These families coveted the things now available with public funding, allowing the state to be a provider for the family, instead of letting the head of the household provide. This is an educational welfare system, and it created a new, expensive, bureaucracy to administrate it.[6] Under a welfare system, everyone pays for it under the compulsory tax burden.

It has been hard for the private, independent home schoolers to resist a computer and curriculum paid by their hard-won tax dollars. Home schoolers pay the same allotment of education taxes, with their property taxes, as does everyone else and have grumbled for years about not getting anything for their money. Families have to weigh the costs and benefits. Many families see the IDEA program as an answer to prayer and a method of relieving the heavy financial burden. Others see it as an impending infringement upon their personal liberties. No matter which side one chooses, Alaska home schoolers are first to realize that IDEA, and other such programs, are “making history and changing the definition of public [home] education forever.”[7]

[1] Bolick, C. The Home Schooling Movement, (1987) as quoted in Dr. Brian Ray’s, Marching to the Beat of Their Own Drum! Home School Legal Defense Association(1992)

[2] Hanson, Roy M. Jr., Summary Analysis of Scholarships (Vouchers) for Private Education

September 1, 1992

[3] Lockner, Terina, What’s the Big I.D.E.A.? APHEA Newsletter v.7.no.4, November 1997 p10

[4] Van Diest, Marty, On State Funded Homeschooling APHEA Newsltter  v.7 no. 1, August 1997 p9

[5] Lockner, Terina, What’s the Big I.D.E.A.? p10

[6] Hanson, Roy M. Jr., Summary Analysis of Scholarships (Vouchers) for Private Education

September 1, 1992

[7] Lockner, Terina, What’s the Big I.D.E.A.? p10


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