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Home School Heroes: The Struggle and Triumph of Home Schooling in America

 

Home School Heroes: The Struggle and Triumph of Home Schooling in America

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Publisher: Broadman and Holman Publishers

Author: Chris Klicka

List Price: Paperback: $14.99

Ages: 15-18 Years

Reviewed By: Jean Hall

 
The HSLDA e-mail alert came on Tuesday, warning of two "bad bills" that would be heard by our state's Legislative Education committee. The hearing had been set for only two days away. Could we contact the representatives on the committee? Could we pray? Could we come to the Capitol to give testimony, or to show support for home education?

You bet. You see, we don't take homeschooling freedoms lightly. Our family began homeschooling under the shadow and threat of HR6, which had a provision that every homeschool teacher would have to be certified in every subject they teach. We, new homeschoolers that we were, went to our senator's town hall meetings. We were among those who tied up the switchboards of the nation's Congress with our calls. HR 6 was amended, and the teacher certification requirement was taken out.

We often ask the oldtimers in our state to tell about the early days of the current homeschooling movement, back in the 1980s when homeschooling was illegal and people had escape plans for their children - out the window, or hide under the bed - in case of a knock at the door. We listen to the stories of court cases, of legislative battles, of the gradual winning of homeschool freedoms, and we are reminded that our legal ability to homeschool is only as secure as the next legislative session. Never mind that parents have a Constitutional right to direct their children's education. Never mind that statistics and standardized test scores indicate that it makes no difference whether an educating parent is a certified teacher or not, and that homeschool students consistently outperform their institutionalized peers. You see, there are people who don't believe that parents are qualified to educate their children, and that homeschooling is just plain wrong, even unpatriotic (if you happen to believe that children belong to the State).

Home School Heroes is an excellent record of the fight for homeschooling freedoms, written by a homeschooling father and lawyer who has been in the thick of the fight. I've heard the stories before, from Chris Klicka himself at a local homeschooling conference, from our state and local homeschooling veterans, but I need the reminders, and so do our children. Hearing the stories makes us more thankful for what we have, what was won for us by others who risked prosecution, fines, even jail. Hearing the stories helps us to remember those families in other parts of the world who are in the midst of the battle even now, and a chapter in the book describes how we can help these beleaguered home educators.

State by state, case by case, Home School Heroes is a record of families that stood firm in the face of bureaucratic bullies, or well-meaning people, or outright hostility. More than that, it is a record of God's grace, provision, and intervention, of "impossible" things that happened, over time, to bring us the relative freedom we enjoy today.

Of course, the more children pull out of government schools, the more economic impact there is on the local school system. Declining enrollments mean fewer jobs, and that concerns the powerful teachers' unions. Thus, you have schemes to win students back, especially through "government homeschooling" programs and virtual academies. A thought-provoking chapter of Home School Heroes addresses this topic.

Another chapter discusses the fruit of persecution and suffering, and this author knows his subject intimately. Part of the message is how we grow through suffering, how God is faithful, but part is a warning that we must never forget God and the lessons He has taught us, lest we lose our hard-won freedoms once more. Many are coming into homeschooling without the rock-hard determination of those who know, from experience, how fragile our freedoms are. These are stories they need to hear. As the title of the final chapter simply states, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

In addition to end notes, there is an appendix that presents the Gospel, with a moving testimonial from the author's own life and experience. It's good to read, even if you already know Christ as your Savior; it's a good reminder of the brevity and uncertainty of life, and where our priorities ought to lie. Another appendix contains a timeline of the "Advancement of Homeschool Freedoms" from 1983 to 1997, both HSLDA and non-HSLDA cases.

At times, the book reads like an advertisement for HSLDA membership, but I didn't mind. We're HSLDA members, you see. Up until recently - when our eldest, a challenged learner, passed the age of compulsory attendance - we homeschooled on pins and needles, worried that our child might be forced back into the institutional setting where she'd known only failure and merciless bullying. HSLDA membership bought us much-needed peace of mind, and advice over the phone when needed. Now that we have less to worry about, we're still members, and our dues go to support the defense of other families.

Know your history. Be ready to defend your right to homeschool your children. Support those who are under attack. Pray, and thank God for His blessings.

By the way, at least 450 people showed up at the state Capitol on that Thursday, in support of homeschool and private school freedoms. The testimony was enlightening, thought-provoking, and occasionally moving. Only one person - the bills' sponsor - testified in favor of the two bills.

These bills died in committee - these bills. There will be more.
 
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Jean Hall
Jean Hall, a Christian home educator with three daughters, enjoys writing stories and music. Her family's interests include reading together, art, gardening, volkswalking and pets: two cats and a Giant Schnauzer.
 
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