According to my local government, I’m just now beginning my fifth year as a homeschooling dad. That’s how long state law has required us to file the paperwork.
In that time, I’ve heard homeschoolers called elitists (because not everyone can afford to educate their own children), snobs (because it is assumed that we look down on those who send their kids to group schools), religious fanatics (because, well, aren’t all homeschoolers Bible-thumping snake handlers or something?), hippies (because if you’re not locking your kid up with a Bible, you must be one of those barefoot, patchouli-scented unschoolers), negligent (because what about socialization?), and just plain selfish.
All the epithets sting, but that last one feels the most unfair.
We are selfish, apparently, because we’re focused on the well-being of our own children and families instead of the larger community. But not only do many homeschooling families devote their time to volunteer work and charity, and not only do we evolve spontaneous extended community co-ops, but some parents also become ardent activists, making homeschooling a political movement and not just a personal choice.
That activism has at least one academic calling for greater government scrutiny of homeschooling families.
In a recent City Journal article, “Homeschooling in the City,” Matthew Hennessey quotes Georgetown law school professor Robin L. West, who “worries that homeschooled children grow up to become right-wing political ‘soldiers,’ eager to ‘undermine, limit, or destroy state functions.’”
I assume that for West, the “right-wing” label subsumes all of us who seek to “undermine, limit, or destroy state functions” — you know, people like John Locke, <a href="…