Homeschooling and American Exceptionalism

The incoming class of congressional freshmen includes, Jaime Herrera (R-WA), the first homeschooled member ever, and Daniel Webster (R-FL) a homeschooling activist about whom I’ve written here and here.

In a press release celebrating the “coming of age” of homeschooling, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine poses the question: “Is Homeschooling Good for America?” which they answer by touting the culturally transformative character of the homeschooling movement, and claiming that “homeschoolers are dramatically changing our political landscape” by training future leaders. 

‘homeschooling’ is about so much more than merely educating our children. It’s about instilling in the next generation the conviction that if good is to prevail, then it must be advanced, and it can be advanced only by those who embrace it.

Although the press release fails to define what “the good” consists of, what counts as “the good” for Old Schoolhouse is made clear by its statement of faith:

“We believe that the Bible is the ONLY inerrant Word of God. It is our authoritative “handbook” for Christian living . . . the ONLY book that is necessary for our faith.

We believe that man is in rebellion against God because of Adam’s sin. Man’s very nature is evil and all are bound for hell, a place of eternal darkness and torment, unless the Father calls him.

The Holy Scripture (the Bible or the Word) consists of all of the books of the Old and New Testaments. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for God’s glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture or may be deduced from Scripture. Nothing whatsoever is to be added to this, whether by “new revelations” of the Spirit or by the traditions of man.” [emphasis in the original]

Certainly homeschoolers are not monolithic; in fact the earliest years of the movement were dominated by lefties who rejected public education for its stifling regimentation, favoring what they often referred to as unschooling. But by the beginning of the twenty-first century homeschooling has become an industry dominated overwhelmingly by conservative Christians. 

Homeschooling conventions across the country feature speakers such as Michael Farris from the Home School Legal Defense Association and Patrick Henry College, and homeschool advocate and Biblical Patriarch, Doug Phillips, of Vision Forum. I have written about Phillips here, here and here. Christian Reconstructionist founder Rousas John Rushudoony is often called the father of the Christian homeschooling movement and convention lectures are frequently informed by Reconstructionist readings of the bible, in which the Old and New Testaments are a continuous narrative, and in which Biblical Law provides the basis for understanding our obligation to obedience, the exercise of dominion, and the purpose and significance of history.  

The homeschool conventions also include vast exhibits of curricular materials informed by these perspectives. The recent study released by the Brookings Institute showed widespread support for “American Exceptionalism” (defined as the idea that America has a special place in God’s plan for history) and the influence of the home school movement helps to account for this fact. 

So indeed, homeschooling is about much more than “education.” It’s about developing a coherent worldview that is entirely integrated and self-reinforcing; a worldview that sees America as a Christian Nation that should be governed by the bible. Whether or not it’s “good for America” remains to be seen.