14 October 2014

Vision for the Next Generation

The vision of homeschooling can often be encapsulated by saying that homeschool parents are training up the next generation of leaders.  What constitutes a leader?  What is the composition of leadership?  Edwin H. Friedman, a leadership educator, once said that, “Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarifies and expands a vision of the future.”  While drones are created in the public schools to serve blindly their master, (in this case, the state), homeschoolers have the unique opportunity to create the next generation of leaders by molding them and creating a vision for the future, then achieving it.

I was homeschooled from the end of first grade on.  For as long as most of us can remember, I have had a vested interest in politics.  Beginning in 1998, I spent countless hours on campaigns, Capitol internships, debate (both participation and coaching) and other activities to further this end.  During high school, my parents constructed a program focused on my political interest.  Since high school, I’ve worked on more than a few campaigns, including to elect reform-minded candidates to school boards across Colorado—boards that are friendly to homeschoolers and are looking to break the mold of public schooling.

Recently, I took things a step further and started a 501(c)3 organization called the Colorado Institute of Advanced Governance to create and train a new generation of political leaders with a solid foundation in limited government principles and the skills necessary to advance that in the political arena.  Very little of this could have been accomplished if my parents had not shaped for me a vision for the future, and then helped me to achieve it, adding to it my own vision along the way.  Leadership starts at home.  That is where leaders are formed.

Another example of this is perhaps better said by former British Prime Minister James Callaghan: “A leader must have the courage to act against an expert's advice.”  Every day, homeschoolers run against the accepted experts’ advice to teach their children in their homes.  This requires bravery, lots of prayer, but most importantly, it requires leadership.  And that all starts in the home.

This reminds me of a bungle in California with the appellate court’s anti-homeschooling ruling in 2008.  I think Ruben Navarrette, a staff writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune, in his March 20, 2008 article “California court overreached on homeschooling case”, summarizes this nicely. 

“Th[is is] the part that deserves criticism.  The court overreached and turned a child-welfare case into an assault on homeschooling.  How do you go from one to the other?  This was a good moment for judicial restraint.  At the very least, this decision should be limited to the unique circumstances of the Long family, and not stand as a precedent that leads other families who homeschool to worry that they too could be ordered to stop teaching their kids.  The part worth celebrating is that the ruling is so over the top and contrary to common sense that it has put the issue of homeschooling front and center and has motivated the defenders of the practice to set their sights on California.  Homeschool advocates vow to help the Longs appeal the ruling.  And they have a heavyweight in their corner.  Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger immediately denounced the appeals court ruling and promised to change state law to guarantee that parents have the right to teach their children at home.  Parents should decide what is best for their children, he said, and "not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children's education.”  The governor is quite correct, and I'm glad to see him in this fight.  Homeschooling isn't perfect.  But look around.  Neither is the public school system, which needs all the reform it can get.  That's why we can't stop looking for viable alternatives that augment traditional teaching - and, just as importantly, challenge traditional thinking.” (emphasis added) 
Vision is the end to this means.  To be able to train up leaders, however, we must first protect the fundamental right to homeschool.  We must always continue to be vigilant in our efforts to promote parental choice and for that to include the uninhibited right to homeschool.  Without this, we lose one of the greatest opportunities to influence the world with our faith and our values because we lose the capacity to easily sculpt new leaders.  As I said before, it all starts in the home.  Cast this vision for your family, for your children, and engage yourself in protecting your rights.  You must do this today, because as we can see in California, the threat is real, here and now.  You can have a huge effect on this world, both your immediate environment and inevitably the rest of the world, if you do.

This article was updated from its original publication from the Support Group Leaders Memo of August 2008.

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