What if…Homeschooling was Illegal

Ashpenaz blazed through town snatching young men from their homes. The policeman searched for the handsome, strong, and intelligent. When he found such youth, he carted them off to the king’s palace.

Daniel in the Lions Den, Mezzotint by J. B. Pratt, with Hand Colouring by Briton Riviere
The King’s Answer by Briton Riviere

One of my biggest fears is that my children will be taken away from me. It is completely irrational, but, nonetheless, it is a fear. Can this sneaking trepidation be overcome? It is so stealth an issue I haven’t given it much concentrated thought. The anxiety surfaces when a sheriff pulls up to our house, or the headlines falsely proclaim, “Homeschooling is unconstitutional.” Maybe standing face to face with this fear will put things into perspective.

What if homeschooling was illegal? Imaginary scenarios are difficult for me, especially this one. We have laws that protect the intrinsic rights of parents in the land of the free. My hope is they will not be encroached upon, but what if they are? Laws could have any number of restrictions, culminating in the removal of children from parents and placing them in government schools. Would that happen? It’s doubtful, but that did happen to a child named Daniel.

Daniel was one of the young men taken away from his home by Ashpenaz. The king wanted the brightest and best. King Nebuchadnezzar began their training by giving them a superior Babylonian education. Completely surrounded by the culture, Daniel still refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar. Gazing at the rich table set before him,

Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself…Daniel 1:8

Daniel resolved. He determined in his heart to remain a Jew. Daniel followed the king’s orders until they went against his conscious. Then he chose lions’ mouths to preserve his most precious possession; his faith in God.

A wise preacher told me,

You have to choose which hill you will die on.

I pass many hills not worth climbing. For the sake of my children, I will traverse any mountain. I’m just not sure public education resides on a mountain. Public schools do not force children to worship the state. If the law said my children had to attend public school, I would appeal repeatedly. I would try escaping. But in the end, we all have to trust in something greater than our ability. Even if our children receive an education founded on biblical principles, the choice to embrace it is up to them.

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15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rachael
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 00:33:54

    Hi Renae,

    I can so relate to your fear! Here in New Zealand, as of almost a year ago, it is now illegal to smack our children. We used to have a defense in the law that allowed reasonable force, but that was taking away by the government last year. It has been a rough emotional ride for us as to what to do with our children now. We can try and find alternatives to physical discipline, but sometimes you just know that it is the only way, especially with the younger children. I fear that my children will blurt it out to a health professional or someone like that who is unsympathetic, and we would then be investigated. From then on, the possibility of our children being taken away would be very real. I have to learn more to trust God, to do what I know is right and to trust Him for the outcome. But as a mother, it is very scarey!
    Just my thought from little NZ.
    PS I got your blog address from the homeschool lounge :-)

  2. Charity
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 05:54:44

    Wise words, Renae. Thanks for putting things in perspective.

  3. Sunniemom
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 06:12:33

    I agree somewhat, Renae. PS is not the worst possible thing that could happen, after all, most of us survived it, and having been so involved in our childrens’ educations, we’d not stop just because the kids were in PS.

    BUT- if the country were ever in such a state that parents were compelled by force to place their children in PS, what would be the atmosphere in those schools? Hmmmmm….

    Funny side note- I have actually heard people state that we are Biblically compelled to put our kids in PS based on the lives of Moses and Daniel. I think I will learn the phrase” Are you outta yer cotton pickin’ mind?” in Hebrew and Greek.

    Quite frankly, I am planning to start taking courses next year to get a teaching degree and certify in my state to prepare for such a possibility. This could also provide a possible ‘escape’ for other homeschooling families in my church. I believe in keeping my powder dry. ;) Plus, I am just plain stubborn.

  4. Robin
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 07:14:22

    You know, I used to worry about folks wanting to hear justification for my son being “out” of school whenever we went places during typical school hours – or even when he was out in the yard. But nowadays I find so much more acceptance from everyone. Museum guides, store clerks, and especially the elderly (who used to be so skeptical).
    Most of them tell me wonderful experiences that they’ve had with homeschoolers. And talk about how much they admire the dedication it takes for parents who decide to homeschool.
    Even my in-laws have come around……. Shocking!
    So, I’m thinking that there is no way that this California case is going to have the impact that people worry about. I think homeschooling has become such an accepted form of education that state and local governments will really try to provide MORE for homeschoolers, not less.

  5. Meg
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 07:20:26

    Have you or your kids read the Shadow Children books by Haddix?

    It’s not homeschooling, but a friend that recommended them to us, described them as some of the feelings they had homeschooling in Alabama.

  6. Angel
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 08:16:57

    This is a fear I have as well and I struggle with what I would do. My first thought is to go underground like so many had to do in the past, but once I am known to my county, that would not be so easy.

    I am not really into breaking the law, but I am so convicted that in this season I NEED to be homeschooling that I just might have to. It’s a tough situation, one I hope I nor my children never have to decide upon.

  7. heather
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 08:22:04

    My husband and I have been talking and praying about this. Due to the nature of our children’s health and learning issues we would likely move someplace where we could legally homeschool. In fact, as our state, which is already one of the hardest to homeschool in, changes their laws regarding homeschooling as well as other freedoms we firmly believe we will be moving in the next 5 years. It would take a miracle to sell this house (the former owners hid all kinds of problems with it that the inspector missed and we aren’t great at fixing things) but as we pray we feel strongly that we will be moving and God will provide a buyer. As I said though, our case is not just one of schooling, but also of health and personal freedoms.

  8. Renae
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 09:10:17

    Rachael,
    That must be hard. Living in fear is not what God intended for us. I don’t want to get into the ethics of spanking, but it seems to me reactions against a few abusive parents created the issue. Protecting children is vital. However, if parents are going to abuse their children, a law against spanking will not stop them. May you find grace and peace as you continue trusting the Lord.

    Charity,
    Thank you. I was a bit surprised where my reasoning took me. At first, I thought there was no way I would ever place my children in public school. Then I realized that depends on the consequences for disobedience. If I can have some influence on my children, it’s better than none.

    Sunniemom,
    Right. I would continue teaching my children at home. And I did think about the kind of state we would have if our children were forced into public school. That would resemble Babylon.

    Daniel and Moses are extreme examples. All Hebrew boys were killed when Moses alone was saved. And many children of Judah were taken into captivity. Daniel and his three friends are the only ones who didn’t bow to the king. Their examples give me hope, but their lives are the exception, not the rule.

    Robin,
    I agree. If we can keep public sentiment going in our favor, we have nothing to fear.

    I don’t know if you saw this, but it is worth noting. The Superintendent of Public Schools in California made this statement,

    …Some parents choose to send their children to private schools or to home school, and I respect that right. I admire the dedication of parents who commit to oversee their children’s education through home schooling…

    He then went on to urge parents to use the resources from their regional education offices. We don’t have to worry, but we do need to stay informed.

  9. Renae
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 09:27:59

    Meg,
    No we haven’t. Thanks for the recommendation. The books look very interesting. I can’t imagine feeling like I needed to live in hiding.

    Angel,
    I hope so, too. Laws that are immoral are not lawful. For example, no government can force me to murder. There are lines that have to be drawn, but as individuals follow their conscious those lines will be in different places.

    Heather,
    I didn’t know that you were facing this issue so directly. What a difficult decision! My husband and I discussed moving as a what-if option last night. There are so many factors involved, such as work and housing. Our hope and trust is in the Lord though. May he direct your steps as you follow your conscious, and seek to do what is the best for your children.

  10. Jennifer in OR
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 09:49:59

    I liked the words “you have to choose which hill you will die on.”

    I think if a future situation creates a total ban on homeschooling, we’ll each just have to follow our conscience and God’s wisdom. I’m not having huge anxiety over it, but it does give me pause to think about ways I can prepare now for such a time.

  11. Melissa
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 16:18:00

    I’d have to admit I’ve thought about it too. I really liked when we moved and no one knew me homeschooled. We also live in a state where you don’t have to register that you are homeschooling unless you’ve already been enrolled in public school. I’m not naive enough to think they don’t have my name on some list, but I wish they didn’t!

  12. Emily
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 20:51:55

    I would traverse the mountain with you. You’re SO right that we pass by hills that are not ‘worth’ it. Our kids are worth it. EVERY single day that I have them with me I have many opportunities. One is to teach them ‘educational things’….the other? to fail in front of them and allow them to show grace to me.

  13. Laura Spencer
    Mar 14, 2008 @ 09:01:51

    What a timely post! I think it’s a frightening thing to raise children, regardless of whether they are homeschooled, or not.

    Thanks for being open about your fears.

  14. Renae
    Mar 14, 2008 @ 09:54:10

    Jennifer,
    It helps to put things in perspective doesn’t it? We need to choose our battles, and I pray this is one we never have to fight. By staying involved now, we can keep liberty from eroding.

    Melissa,
    I didn’t realize how much freedom I enjoy in Texas until I started reading blogs from homeschoolers in other states. Here there are very few requirements and no government oversight. I am thankful, but I don’t take it for granted any longer.

    Emily,
    Yes, you touched on the issue of character. Thank you for reminding me that my children are learning how to live by watching me. There is grace, but I strive to show them the path of obedience.

    Many ideas plead for our sacrifice, but I will not put my stake in the ground until my love for God is at risk. Conscious will dictate when that happens.

  15. Renae
    Mar 14, 2008 @ 09:59:44

    Laura,
    Thank you. Yes, raising children requires great faith.

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