The most visible dissenters are homeschoolers. On today’s Home School Heartbeat, host Mike Smith concludes his series on the rise of the homeschooling movement in America.
Dr. Carper, how does the homeschooling movement fit into the continuum of dissent in American education? And what are the similarities and the differences between the two?
Professor Hunt and I have called homeschoolers the “Anabaptists of American education.” The most radical of the Protestant reformers, Anabaptists attempted to renew the church without any aid on the part of the state. Indeed, they believe that the church and state should be completely separate. In general, homeschooling parents reject or try to avoid any entangling relations with government. Hence, homeschooling leaders and parents do not embrace tax-funded vouchers. Here they differ from the Catholic tradition which asserts that all should share in state funds for education as a matter of simple justice. On the other hand, homeschooling, like earlier dissenting movements, has seen its share of opposition, intrusive regulation, and labels like “undemocratic” and “selfish.” Like other dissenting movements, homeschooling has also seen its share of litigation. Finally, like earlier dissenters, the homeschooling movement again suggests that when government privileges a specific set of propositions of knowledge and dispositions of value and belief, it has established the functional equivalent of a state church. Dissent, therefore, is inevitable.
Dr. Carper, I want to thank you for joining me on the program this week. It has been tremendously interesting to hear this historical perspective on homeschooling. Until next time, I’m Mike Smith.