March-April 2010 Selected Content
Editorial - Mark and Helen Hegener
In some circles these days it's almost a buzzword. It has a nice ring, and it seems something worth striving for. But in actuality, is it possible any more?
In this issue a feature article by Sandi Hall, the Chairperson of the Washington Homeschool Organization, tells how that group brought together many national homeschooling leaders for a three day convention last June. We attended that convention, and it was a very positive, uplifting experience for us. Several leaders within the national homeschooling movement were there, and it was good to talk with them about issues and concerns. In bringing together these people from various philosophies and approaches, the Washington Homeschool Association showed that it could work, that personal and professional differences need not prevent working together for the future of homeschooling. The commitment of the Washington Homeschool Association to remaining open and accepting of all homeschooling families deserves a special salute.
But the rifts between various homeschooling groups and organizations are still wide, and are still growing. With support and encouragement from a national Christian homeschooling publication, many state organizations now require board members to sign and subscribe to a doctrinal statement, thereby effectively eliminating many well-qualified and highly committed individuals who could make significant contributions to the homeschool movement in those states. In our Letters section this issue one of our readers addresses this issue at length. Hers is not the only such letter we've received and hers is not the only voice taking a stand aginst this type of exclusivism.
Since we began publishing Home Education Magazine in 1983 our unwavering goal has been to increase the understanding and cooperation within the homeschooling movement. We feel that the more people can work toward understanding each other, the more they can work toward mutually beneficial goals, to the benefit of all homeschooling families. We believe in and support the need for homeschoolers to meet and work with others of like mind - - but not at the cost of totally avoiding all contact with or actively working against those who might see the world a little differently. And not at the cost of creating cliques within the movement that require as initiation fee one's signature on a list of specific beliefs.
We have built a reputation with this magazine for openness and fairness and tolerance. We count among our subscribers members of nearly every homeschooling group, including many of those very exclusivist fundamentalist Christians. We've been able to build bridges within this movement because of our acceptance and our willingness to consider all the various sides of an issue, and because of our unswerving policy of believing that everyone should be given the opportunity to be heard - whether we as editors agree with what is being said or not.
We know that this commitment to acceptance and tolerance is shared by many leaders in this movement, most notably Dr. Raymond Moore and his wife, Dorothy. Their long-standing example should be a beacon to us all. We also know that in many states homeschooling groups have laid aside their philosophical differences and worked together for legal goals. But this spirit of understanding and cooperation need not be limited to times of legal stress.
We believe that the homeschooling movement in this country can still show unity, but we also fear that when one group claims the right to speak for homeschoolers by their supposedly superior numbers they alienate those who choose not to be identified with that group, and in serving their own needs they do a disservice to every homeschooling family in the nation.
We believe that every homeschooling family has the right to teach their own children in the way they choose. A controversial question in recent months has been 'Who speaks for the movement?" Our reply to that question would be "The homeschooling family speaks very well for itself."
The homeschool movement is a grassroots movement, and does not need a national spokesgroup. There are many organizations on the local, state and national levels which truly function with an understanding of this key point. They have recognized the tremendous diversity of families who educate their own children and do not presume to speak for homeschooling families.
Our question for those who would ask "Who speaks for the movement?" is simply this: "To whom are you speaking?" In the past ten years homeschooling has gone from a handful of parents who believed in a different educational approach to a widely recognized alternative to the public school system. And it has done so without national spokespersons or spokesgroups. Given the opportunity to communicate and to exchange ideas and concerns, the homeschoolers themselves have become the movement's best possible representation.
Homeschool unity is still possible, and as homeschoolers seek to convey the important message that homeschooling works they need the strength and support of every homeschooling family - of every philosophical and religious belief. For in our diversity lies our true strength.
© 1989, Mark and Helen Hegener