Home-Schoolers Aren't the Stepchildren of Education; FAITH PERSPECTIVES - RELIGION

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I'm not an evangelist for home schooling. I know that it's not the perfect answer for every family or every child. In fact, I have two children who are enrolled in public school right now, and the two youngest stay at home. I'm comfortable with that, too.

Still, I've found my home schooling groove. When young parents tell me they're thinking about home schooling themselves, I am happy to answer questions, offer encouragement, and show them the curriculum we use.

Home schooling has become so mainstream that I confess I'm taken by surprise when someone openly criticizes the path we're on. Face to face, it almost never happens.

What does happen, sometimes, is that a stranger will discover that we home school and question me at great length, in a way that makes me feel interrogated. This happened just last week at a doctor's appointment. The nurse asked question after question. This nurse, in particular, was stunned when I told her that Bee is in a choir with 60 other home school children. "There are that many home schoolers?" she replied, in amazement. Yes, and many more.

Tony Jones is a Christian blogger, author, and prominent figure in the Emerging Church movement. He's a progressive Christian who has, over the years, questioned and critiqued the traditional forms of institutional Christianity. I've heard him speak. It both shocked and saddened me to see Tony Jones attack home schooling.

Attack is not too strong a word, as the post was entitled "Death to Home schooling." Tony recounts the decision process he and his then-wife went through in deciding where there son should go to kindergarten. And Jones reached this decision:

"But it seems to me that if I am truly committed to living a missional life, then I must enroll my kids in the public school ... to withdraw my children from public education is to not play my (God- given) role as a missional member of society - like I can't just choose to withhold my taxes."

Jones' central argument is that if education is for all, then "I don't, as a Christian, have the option to 'opt out' of the societal contract. Instead, I live under a mandate to be the most involved, missional societal participant that I can be."

Here is my immediate reaction to that argument: Jones is saying that my children belong to the state just as much as my taxes do. I reject that idea with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength. …