Where the Definition of “Fair” Gets Blurry
Last legislative season, legislators wisely made a distinction between state-funded ESA students and homeschoolers. If such legislation is introduced this session, we trust the same will happen. While that may seem like a small detail, it isn’t at all. It’s what is necessary to protect WV homeschooling freedom as we know it now.
You see, funding for homeschoolers via vouchers or ESAs have been a controversial possibility in state legislatures across the country, including WV, for more than a decade. Lively discussion, both yea and nay, has permeated news shows, articles, blogs, and even CHEWV board meetings.
Since we all pay taxes, what’s not to like about state funding? Isn’t it only fair to get back some of the money we paid in?
What has been learned in most states where homeschool funding of any sort has been implemented is that eventually Christian homeschooling is squeezed out. In fact, one study showed that state funding ultimately decreased the number of private homeschoolers overall, leaving those that were left with less clout.
State homeschool money is also tied (at least eventually) to the separation of church and state – meaning the absence of Christian curriculum. Based on the experience of several other states to date, many homeschool leaders have called state funding a “slippery slope” to regulation and loss of freedom. The Alliance (of state homeschool groups like CHEWV) has dubbed it a Trojan Horse.
California homeschool leaders warn:
We have watched for the last 15 or so years as [state funding] opened up for homeschoolers. In the beginning, they offered money and total freedom to use it as you wished. Little by little, year by year, the rules became more stringent and parents lost more and more control. This is the inevitable result of taking government money. “He who pays the piper, calls the tune.”
CHEWV has defined homeschooling as home-based, privately funded, and parent-directed. When privately funded, parents have full choice. If we are educating in a private setting with private funds, perhaps it’s not “fair” to call for more regulation. Whether it’s fair to regulate students receiving state funds is another issue altogether.
While CHEWV does not stand against ESAs, we are gratified that WV legislators have been willing to separate private homeschoolers from ESA students. This protects the great strides we have made to keep private homeschooling legal and free, while still providing choice to parents.
It’s important that legislators (and indeed the public) not consider private homeschoolers in the same mix as publicly-funded students – who might also school at home. When and if they ever do studies on publicly-funded students, they need to realize that these are not private homeschoolers.
As the 2021 WV Legislative Session begins, consider and pray about homeschool-related bills, stay abreast of the discussion, and remain involved in the WV legislative process.
Defending freedom, serving families…together