By Katie Kieffer
Who knew? My parents are cool. Homeschooling is becoming hipster. Celebrity parents like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie proudly discuss their homeschooling lifestyle. But pioneers like my parents set the trend of educational freedom.
The plan was to send me to public school. My mother enjoyed her job as an R.N. and was not bored. She was simply a creative rebel. And my father encouraged her to pioneer—because he believed in freedom.
My mother is a rebel with her own style. She once told me: “I never wanted to be like anyone else. I always did my own thing. But my girlfriends would copy my artwork and my clothes. I would get a new outfit, and they would go out and buy the same outfit. I was happy when I could eventually sew my own clothes and they couldn’t copy me. But when they copied my artwork, it irritated me.” My grandmother told her: “When they copy you, it is the highest form of flattery.”
My mother designed, sewed, modeled and won fashion awards for her clothes. Her parents could not afford to buy drawing paper so she innovatively recycled newspaper to sketch her designs.
As an adult, I think the artist in my mother motivated her to do something unique with her children’s education—and, once again, set a trend that her peers would copy. When I was five years old, homeschooling was not as cool and acceptable as it is today; homeschooling parents were scrutinized and ridiculed. My mother did not care; she was an entrepreneur.
My mother’s friends openly doubted her ability to teach her own children. She proved them wrong; I graduated Summa Cum Laude from college, my sister is a teacher at a private school and I have a brother in medical school. Today, many of my friends and cousins are homeschooled.
More and more American parents are choosing homeschooling. Here’s why:
Homeschooling parents want freedom—for themselves and their children. They do not want their children’s First and Fourth Amendment rights to be routinely violated as they are in many public schools through censorship, unprovoked random drug tests (for athletes) and unwarranted searches and seizures.
Education, per the Constitution, should be left up to individuals and states. Americans should have options for how to educate their children. Thomas Jefferson once said: “It is better to tolerate the rare instance of parent[s] refusing to let their child be educated, than to shock the common feelings and ideas by the forcible transportation and education against [their] will.”
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs (think Steve Jobs) never finished college; there is no perfect formula for how much formal education someone needs to achieve success. Children learn in different ways and at different rates—and parents will always make better educational choices for their children than the state.
However, former presidents like Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson ushered in an unconstitutional era of compulsory education—directed at the federal level.
Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains in his book, Theodore and Woodrow, that public schools were started as a way to turn children into obedient little statists—not to provide equal educational opportunity.
Napolitano writes: “Public schools were an ideal place to weed out students in order to create an elite class of people, while relegating the rest to their rightful position in life. …Many ideas advocated by Roosevelt and Wilson were not far off from those of some European dictators of the time.” Bottom line, compulsory education is an offense to individual liberty and the Constitution.
2.) Personalized Academics
Academics is a top motivator for parents, who believe that they can use one-on-one attention to develop their children’s intellectual gifts and overcome any weaknesses. USA Today reports: “…home-schoolers, on average, scored 37 percentile points above public school students on standardized achievement tests.”
3.) Culture and Morals
Increasingly, parents want to teach their own culture and morals to their children—not the “morals” of the state. Napolitano writes that U.S. public schools: “did not separate church and state. Instead, they hoped to emphasize Protestant teachings over other religions, specifically, Catholicism.”
Secular and religious parents alike increasingly find that public schools do not meet their expectations. According to USA Today: “Secular [homeschool] organizations across the country report their numbers are growing…”
4.) Developing Talents
Homeschooled children have the benefit of more time and parental focus to develop unique extracurricular talents. Some of my friends focused on developing skills that require intense time commitments—like figure skating. Many athletes, actresses and musicians opt for homeschooling or online school at some point in their careers (think Taylor Swift, Jason Taylor and Tim Tebow).
I like to think that I am cooler than my parents. But, honestly, at this point, they are cooler than me. Because without their brazen pioneering, I would not be nearly as unique.