Monday, October 5, 2009

Thank You, Pioneers!

When our family started homeschooling, it wasn't exactly commonplace, but at least it was legal. As committed as I am to this homeschooling lifestyle, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been one of the first to buck the system about an issue that might have resulted in my spending time in jail or my children being removed from my custody.

Today, homeschooling is legal in every state. We can thank people like Raymond and Dorothy Moore, David and Micki Colfax, Mary Pride, and John Taylor Gatto for much of that. While I don't agree with all of their methods, I do appreciate their paving the way to educational freedom for the rest of us.

Although the first cumpulsory education laws in America were enacted in 1853, it was 1918 before every state required school attendance. By the seventies and eighties, the majority of children in America were educated in the public school system. The pioneers of what has come to be called the "homeschool movement" were willing to step out into uncharted territory for the benefit of their families and, later, for the benefit of us all.

I've come to terms with the guilt. I admit that I'm chicken! I'm happy to sit back and reap the benefits of someone else's sacrifice. I've had similar struggles with my attitude about military service. I'm so thankful for the individuals who put their lives on the line every day to keep the rest of us safe! I've just never felt called to BE one of those individuals. I've soothed my conscience by reminding myself that there have to be people left at home, too. We all contribute in different ways.

I probably wouldn't have left my home and family to be an American pioneer in the 1800's, although I happily reside in Oregon, a state that openly celebrates their contribution. I don't think I would have joined the homeschool movement in the seventies and eighties, but I surely have enjoyed the educational freedom they helped make possible. It does make me stop to consider what I might leave behind.

How adventurous are you? Would you have joined the early homeschool movement, or are you as cautious as I am? Maybe you still feel like a pioneer. What's your story?

To discuss homeschool regulations in your state, visit the state-by-state online parenting support groups at Time4Learning.

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