A White Paper by Raymond S. Moore
Attorney Michael Farris‘ homeschooling alarms in states from Coast to Coast, and federally over the last four years, and particularly his national alarm on the HR-6 amendment, constitute a serious tactical error if homeschooling is to be known for its serious contribution to American education instead of simply another passing educational fancy, and if it is to be truly respected by legislators instead of pressuring them.
Homeschools have come of age as America’s most thriving education movement as measured by state studies of achievement from Alaska to Florida and of sociability in both state and national studies, and honored by leading university scholarships. After 1972 reports in Harper’s and Reader’s Digest of school-entrance-age studies which we began in 1969, a medley of parents — missionaries, world travelers, movie stars, sports heroes, farmers, wilderness people — surfaced as home teachers.
Schoolmen were first interested more in later school ages than homeschools. Yet with troubled American schools and help from radio and TV like Dobson, Maddoux, Moody, Donahue, Winfrey and wide press, the idea flowered into a movement. Now informed church and public schools profit from it. It isn’t all perfect; one model may be better than others, but this old idea now scores very high!
Mike Farris is an engaging, energetic, strong-willed young lawyer with a fine family, ever on the lookout for brighter prospects. His HSLDA, like Rutherford, NALSAS and other defenders, has helped many families. But his service is offset by unilateral initiatives, creating alarm after alarm that spell catastrophe to the home education movement (Movement) and arrogance to those who were on the Movement’s battle line helping each other get started, often at great sacrifice, while he was still in high school. He reminds me, an ex-Army officer, of a draft-evading president who runs wars without reference to the Senate, maybe worried that it might disapprove and unaware that the Golden Rule is still 24 karat.
Yet as a senior professional, key researcher and founder of the Movement, I must write not only for thousands of hurting families, but also for key Coalition members who helped shape this paper. I accept personal accountability for it, fully aware of the probable diversity of its readers and of likely repercussions. We hope Mike, his board, staff and all Protestant exclusivists (PE’s) who split other faiths, including Roman Catholic, Jew, LDS, Muslim, etc., even a Lutheran the other day, from state or federal home education bodies see their Bible’s point that the greater danger isn’t non-Protestants, but mixing with greedy, slandering brothers:
“I have written you…not to associate with sexually immoral people — not at all meaning the people of this world…In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but who is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.” Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:9-11, NIV.
In other words, I deeply wish that they could truly understand their Christ. Their divisiveness did not come from His Bible.
If any PE’s deny anything of substance that we say here, they can tell me or take me to court. That would be a great opportunity to get all out in the open. To write the worst here would seem so ungodly as to be unbelievable and make this letter appear absurd. Yet the evidence is prodigious.
PURPOSES OF THIS PAPER
Our main concerns are four: (1) To reunite state coalitions, (2) to protect vulnerable families, (3) to propose a representative national homeschool coalition or council, and (4) to build a strong sense of accountability among homeschools as family laboratories to help improve our conventional schools. We are not so personally offended by any of the persons mentioned here, as at the havoc they are wreaking. For the first 15 years (about 1969-84), most of us worked without pay until we had decent laws in most states, and still do. PE has already created havoc. Indifference to unity is more alarming than the HR-6 vote. Friendliness and concern for other schools, and setting sound examples, are homeschooling’s best defense.
Outline of this paper
Maybe I am senile as Mike says, but I still hold out a hope that he will yet make a selfless contribution to the Movement. I wish him well also on his ambitions to be a fine governor, senator or judge if he remembers that to be truly strong is not to be willful, and if he gets his ethics, money and political ambitions in order and his temper, tongue, and religious judgmentalism under control. This means that he must stop his projection of hostility in legislatures, courts and newsletters. This is crucial to underpin the strong moral example he wants to project. We are pained at him and his colleagues, one of whom brags as home education’s “Four Pillars”, for trying to control the Movement at the expense of others’ religious freedoms instead of winning laurels ethically. We here include accounts of Mike’s…
1. Losing crucial homeschool friends by pushing state and federal alarm buttons, alienating state and federal legislators and officials by treating them as pressure-vulnerable political hacks instead of befriending them, informing them, and reasoning with them as statesmen, as we have done for years. (See civil rights lawyer below.)
2. Rising addiction in recent years to use of alarms in states and nation which, while it attracts heroic attention to him and brings in more HSLDA money and members, actually destroys home education by turning a positive professional movement into a defensive one, generating fear that feeds personal political goals.
3. Cooperation with, and active participation in a PE campaign making homeschool state leadership and membership a test of faith, splitting state coalitions through outlawing Roman Catholics, Jews, LDS, Muslims, etc. by demanding the signing of Protestant vows.
4. Inadvertently or deliberately, yet unilaterally posing as state and national homeschool voice, offensive to selfless veterans who believe this should be the province of a representative national body. The HR-6 alarm is only one symptom of the PE attack, systematically destroying homeschool unity built against great odds for 15 years before Mike jumped in.
5. Inclination to use influential people to build his hero’s stage until he needs them no more or until they question his wisdom.
6. Prejudice agenda much like the Massachusetts Bay Colony ministers’ against Roger Williams.
7. Onion-thin-skin intolerance to any questioning of his or HSLDA’s wisdom, and temper of almost insane fury, yet reserving the right to judge others without checking his facts.
8. HSLDA has become well-to-do and prominent, yet largely rejects the generally most trying, dismal situations the custody cases.
9. The doubtful “Four-Pillar” ethics anger home-schoolers by religious prejudice to divide and destroy state coalitions.
10. Negative impact on the security of parents in general who during the Movement’s first 15 years or so were delighted to see any and all who came fully into the Movement.
In the remainder of this paper we first elaborate on its purposes, and include reactions of professionals and laymen to the issues. Then we flesh out the outline above and close with vignettes of the other three “Pillars” to provide a context – some idea of the characters and methods of his colleagues and, to some extent, reasons for Mike’s agenda.
© 1999 Raymond Moore. All Rights Reserved. Reproduced with permission given to Ann Zeise.