Homeschooling without credentials leads to educational anarchy

Educational AnarchyIt isn’t just that we’re “well meaning amateurs.” The National Education Association (well, at least the California Chapter) has real concerns about what homeschooling will do to the entire educational system. As reported by the Pacific Justice Institute, the organization representing Sunland Christian School:

For instance, the California Teachers Association claims in its brief that allowing parents to homeschool their children without requiring a teaching credential will result in “educational anarchy.” Meanwhile, in another brief filed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and the California Department of Education, it is argued that the law allows parents to homeschool on their own – but not with the help of a structured, independent-study program such as the one represented by Pacific Justice Institute (which was utilized by the L. family in this case). Pacific Justice Institute

Now what, pray tell, is educational anarchy? Excerpted from Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary:


from Greek, from anarchos having no ruler

1 a: absence of government b: a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority c: a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government

2 a: absence or denial of any authority or established order b: absence of order

Interesting. Maybe they have a point. I do believe that the absence of government in private homes is generally a good thing. And when specifically applied to education, I do deny that the state has any authority with regards to how I instruct my children at home. But will this lead to a general absence of order? A denial of any authority? A complete upsetting of the established order?

I think the CTA will have a tough time arguing that point since homeschooling has existed in this nation since its beginning, and recognized in our state laws for twenty years or more, predominantly without the requirement of a teacher’s certificate. And I am yet to see one single state’s education system dissolve into anarchy. In fact, we are having to fight rather diligently to slow the trend of increasing government intervention. Maybe the NEA should join us in that fight since they have similar interests in preserving teachers’ freedoms in the classroom.

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34 Responses

  1. “The National Education Association (well, at least the California Chapter) has real concerns about what homeschooling will do to the entire educational system.”

    Well, I have real concerns about what the NEA has done to the entire educational system. Seems like they should be cleaning their own house instead of going after us. At the least, that would keep them out of our collective hair.

  2. The only anarchy I see seems to be coming from the public school classrooms (and maybe the Texas CPS–but that is another topic!) The order seems to be slipping in the classroom first… and foremost.

    I am sure everyone has seen the latest video floating around the media of the substitute teacher and student fighting. I am beginning to think that maybe the only way a structured form of education can truly work is if it is privately done, as of the days before public education: home education or paid education.

  3. I think we are moving more and more to a society where the only authority is government authority. Whereas, wat one time family and society (church, various informal groupings, etc.) were considered the primary regulators when such regulation was required. (And it seems there was a larger amount of MYOB.) Now, we expect government to regulate every detail of our lives. And there is very little that is considered your own personal business. So anything not under direct control of the government is considered “anarchy.”

  4. To me, this is like saying that those of us who continue to cook our meals at home, without the aid or supervision of a certified chef and/or nutritionist are contributing to culinary anarchy.

  5. “Culinary anarchy.”

    Can’t have that, now, can we? I am curious what the entire brief says since I only have a brief quote right now, but the NEA (and its various state chapters) don’t have a great history with their arguments against homeschooling.

    If we had to be members of their little club to homeschool, they’d like us just fine. That is the sad part of it.

  6. Um, so these people set themselves up as the “authority” and then when I don’t agree with them, I’m an anarchist.

    I mean, I’m a Christian and most of the time I don’t go around hurling insults like “infidel” at the folks who work for public education or have a secular viewpoint. Sigh.

    TOLERANCE is a word that I find has been misused and abused. How ’bout we practice a little?

  7. Given that the term anarchy originally refered to the absence of an archon, the Greek term for an absolute tyrant, yeah, I’m all for that. The absence of a mandate from an “enlightened despot” in the form of the NEA does not mean that there would be no organization at all.
    Just as the absence of a universal church hierarchy doesn’t mean that there is no order, either within denominations or within individual churches.
    I’ve been reading Vision of the Annointed by Thomas Sowell and I keep thinking that his discussion of governance by the well-intentioned enlightened class (which he calls the annointed) despite evidence that their policies aren’t working, has a great deal of relevance to the homeschooling movement, especially in recent attempts to curb homeschooling (CA and TN come to mind).

  8. Good point, Sebastian.

    And ultimately, I think they are creating problems for themselves in their deference to state power. The union exists to mediate between the employer and the employee, in this case the state and the teachers.

    The NEA has been fighting NCLB since the beginning, as well as other statewide testing programs. But now all of a sudden we need the almighty state to keep us all from descending into disorder?

  9. “Maybe the NEA should join us in that fight since they have similar interests in preserving teachers’ freedoms in the classroom.”

    Where was the NEA in Nebraska during the LB 1157 fight. Teachers lost enormous freedom in the classroom through that legislation.

    Oh, I remember. Maybe they were fighting for LB 1141, where they could increase their dues paying base by restricting homeschoolers to state testing.

    I wonder if the NEA is only interested in homeschool credentials for the simple fact of an untapped dues base?

  10. Maybe I’m just a slow learner, but it occurred to me that they don’t want homeschoolers to have the freedoms they do, and even more so now that we’ve “proved” ourselves, because then the rest of the world will find out that they (credentialed teachers) are unnecessary.

  11. Yes, I think they are coming under increasing pressure with the success of alternative models of education. There are a number of people and organizations currently questioning whether traditional certification is necessary even in the public schools. Especially in districts which have a difficult time finding teachers, many have argued that we need to get away from education graduates and begin looking at graduates who excel in their field.

  12. Ooh, as the Sex Pistols sing, “I wanna be in anarchy.” I’m using the button too.

    PS Ugh Laden does not deserve one hit from my site.

  13. See, I was thinking some Pink Floyd. “We don’t need no education…” But it probably doesn’t strike quite the tone I desire for my homeschool.

  14. I enjoyed your post. I think they just assumed that anarchy had negative connotations for most people so no one would bother to stop and think about what educational anarchy really meant. An absence of government in education (not a bad thing at all).

  15. Pink Floyd is appropriate. “…we don’t need not thought control…Teacher! Leave those kids alone!” Wasn’t it about the South African education system, which was dedicated to preserving the apartheid status quo?

    This issue is all about educational choice, isn’t it? There’s nothing wrong with credentialed teachers existing; but that is only one of many ways to impart information to or to instill a love of learning in the young.

  16. I see it as a slide from idea A: that you as a consumer (ie, the person who pays for an item or service) can require a certification in order to assess the quality of what you are about to buy from a stranger, to idea B: that quality is impossible without certification. (ie, from the idea that food bought from an unknown diner is reasonably free from contaminants to the idea that food from a health checked diner must be better than a home cooked meal).
    I would argue that, a certification indicated someone has learned how to provide a quality service (at some point in time), not that each time the service is provided it will be of high quality (or what is in the best needs of customer). Or why would it be possible to get a bad haircut from a liscenced cosmetologist or a misdiagnosis from a doctor or fail to learn to read from a certified teacher.
    These discussions and rules tightenings aren’t about seeing that our children are well educated (has any school ever been successfully held negligent for failure to educate?). They are about maintaining power. If families can choose good curriculum and materials and provide a good educational outcome, it calls into question the inability of a neighborhood to make good aggregate decisions for their local school, of a city’s residents to make good decisions for their district and of a state’s residents to make good decisions for its educational system.

  17. Certification is as much about restricting entry into a particular field as it is about ensuring quality. Or so says my very libertarian husband!

  18. To me, the biggest reason for certification is so that you have something to take away when a professional really messes up. Then your career in that field is over. We need such things in place so we can limit the number of quack doctors and incompetent teachers who simply pick up and leave for another state after being fired for negligence.

  19. Instead of rebel without a cause, I think we are all rebels WITH a cause. I love the Educational Anacharist – it’s going on our site too!

  20. Now just wait a doggone minute here- Where are THEIR credentials?

    The event required 320 freshmen and sophomores to transform into teachers and present lessons on subjects such as health, nutrition, electricity and kinetic energy to eager first- through third-graders.

    Personally, I think that is very cool and I agree with this paragraph-

    …Larry Nemerow, biotechnology program coordinator. “There is no higher form of learning than teaching. You can learn something for a test, but then you forget it. Here, they had to become experts on a subject, and the information will stick with them a lot longer.”

    Now why can kids in high school do that, but parents can’t? Is it because this is just one temporary project? Is it because the kids are supervised by credentialed teachers?

    They come out and ADMIT that the traditional classroom method of the Chalk&Talk for the Sit&Git is inefficient and ineffective, and then turn around and claim that home educators are anarchists for not wanting to use their faulty tools.

    As has been pointed out before, providing one’s child an education is as basic as providing meals, first aid, and counseling- none of which any of us is required to obtain a professional license to do.

  21. Good for educational anarchy! I thought the comments about an+archon were especially enlightening, because, last I heard, wasn’t a democracy basically founded on the idea that people choose their own leaders? In order to choose their own leaders, must they not be able to think for themselves and not think as others tell them to do? In other words, must they not be intellectual anarchists?

    Actually, the more I think of it, the more of a compliment it seems.

  22. Quite true! And who would the CTA have our rulers be? Those they are trying to fight in the federal government as well?

  23. Our homeschool park group is also designing t-shirts that say “Educational Anarchist.” We love the phrase!

  24. The home-schooling issue is but one more of Satan’s tricks to keep children from learning about the God who created them. Since public schools are forbidden to mention God, it is the parent’s duty to see that their children are given the spiritual training they need now and in the days when the antichrist rises to power. Make no mistake about it; we are fast approaching that day. Look around if you doubt it. Pray without ceasing and keep looking up. If your kids are in public school, PLEASE stay informed about what they are learning and refuse to let anybody teach them that same-sex marriages and abortion and sex without marriage are okay. THEY ARE NOT! God be with us all, especially as we close in on election day when two men, both of whose platforms are closing in on the abominal, are preparing to grab our votes. STAY INFORMED!

  25. Thanks for the great post and helping to inform, as always, Dana! I’ve put up the logo, linked here to your post, on my blog sidebar.

  26. In light of the Badman Review perhaps the concept of Educational Anarchy ought to be revisited. As I see it, the fewer laws and restrictions, the better. The more we legislate, the more we monitor and supervise and require credentials, the more we complicate what is at the heart of it a very simple matter.

    Parents teach the next generation – and uncles, aunts, grandparents, siblings, trusted friends, etc. This is the way pretty much everyone learned before public education, and the right of a parent to be the primary agent of a child’s education is entrenched in many a legal document. Those legal statements are the first ones we should look to for guidance, and state intervention should only be an issue when there is good reason to believe a child is coming to harm.

    Attempts at further regulation, regardless of how well-intentioned they may be, tend to raise more questions than they answer and create a plethora of issues regarding resources, mandates, and protocols.

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