Understanding Government and Private Funding
More families will have to wrestle with similar decisions in the coming years.
Although every family’s situation is different, it’s always important to consider the facts before deciding what’s right not only for the educational freedom of your own family but also for other homeschooling families.
Let’s start by defining our terms.
Government-funded education goes by many names, including education savings accounts, education vouchers, Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, charter schools, as well as other forms of local, state, or federal funding of K–12 education. Your state may use one of these terms or something similar.
These programs use taxpayers’ money to provide funding for families and private institutions. Of course, this also means the state must ensure these funds are used for their intended use. Accountability leads to regulation, and regulation leads to fewer freedoms.
In contrast, privately funded homeschooling forgoes the distribution of taxpayers’ money. Instead, the people who directly benefit from homeschooling raise their own educational funds, either directly or via private scholarships, endowments, crowdfunding, charities, and so on.
Privately funded homeschooling affords homeschoolers greater independence and flexibility as families aren’t subject to state regulation.
The Future of Educational Freedom
Homeschooling has made wonderful progress in recent years.
Homeschooling is now legal in all fifty states, support for homeschooling is at an all-time high, and resources for homeschooling are widely available.
Given this momentum, everyone who values educational freedom must avoid complacency. Instead, we must be proactive, giving each new proposal the due consideration it deserves while asking ourselves, “Does this new proposal promote or curtail our educational freedoms?”
Here are some questions regarding the impact of government funding on homeschooling for your consideration.
Questions for Consideration and Conversation
- Do you want the state involved in your homeschooling on any level?
- Is accepting any financial assistance from the state a slippery slope?
- Where does the money come from?
- Would it be more beneficial for homeschoolers to keep their education tax money rather than fund the Department of Education with that money?
- In your state, are you still classified and protected as a homeschooler if you receive government funding?
- Is making your own curriculum decisions important to you, or would you prefer the Department of Education to assume oversight in those decisions?
- What historical examples can you think of where the government was involved in decisions like this? What were the initial intentions? Were the outcomes positive or negative, and how accurately did they reflect those initial intentions?
Eventually, the Johnson family ultimately decided to…
In the end, the Johnsons believed that accepting the state money would blur the line between being independent homeschoolers and becoming an educational extension of the state. Preserving their freedom and their responsibility to shape their children’s education took precedence over the short-term benefits.
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ESAs: External Resources
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