“This new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”
Thus Hitler famously declared in 1937 as he ordered the nation’s children into government schools – a law that is still enforced to this very day. The Nazi tyrant knew, as all dictators do, that the home, left to its own devices, is a far worse threat to state ideology than any foreign power.
We are fortunate in North America today that the home remains more or less free. However, homeschoolers even in my own province of Nova Scotia are currently arguing that the province risks becoming the “worst place” in Canada for home-based education if the government adopts a new report by the Auditor General calling for increased oversight of their activities.
Really what the Auditor General is proposing is mild compared to places like Germany or Sweden, where some homeschooling parents have lost custody of their children and even been jailed. But as Western culture descends into increasing secularism, homeschooling families are right to be vigilant. In fact, everyone should be, because the right to homeschool is the last bulwark of freedom; it is our last stand against tyranny.
The state may stomp on our freedom of expression, conscience, and religion; it may demolish our churches and ban our soapbox diatribes. But these are all in the external forum – regulating words and deeds. Forced attendance at school, on the other hand, attacks the internal forum. Its goal is to control the thoughts of the next generation. As long as the home remains unscathed, a sanctuary amidst the chaos, there’s still some last vestige of liberty. While greatly impeded by the loss of religious and cultural institutions, the family can still keep the fires of faith and truth alive around the evening’s hearth or the morning’s math lesson.
But the sanctuary is breached as soon as the state forces the child to school – a threat so great the family risks losing its very soul. Though the hearth remains, it is now invaded by state propaganda. Though parents can still teach their child the values of faith and family, they do it while the child is indoctrinated in the opposite worldview through the best hours of his day. Though they are parents by nature, father and mother are now mere guardians under the law.
The education of children, taken in the widest sense, is the parent’s most basic duty besides keeping their children alive. But to fulfill it they need the freedom to direct their child’s education. It’s the parent’s natural right to decide where, how, and by whom their child will be educated. That means where government-run schools are the norm, they need the freedom to keep them out, even if they don’t exercise it.
Freedom simply cannot exist where the state usurps authority over education. Under such a regime, any lip service to freedom is Orwellian. The illusion of liberty might persist so long as state-sanctioned values line up with those of the parents, but the reality comes into focus as soon as the two conflict.
Take Germany and Sweden, both considered among the great democracies of the world. Johan walks openly to his neighborhood church, Hans readily protests his government’s latest tax hike, and both think they are free. But ask Christer Johannson or Juergen and Rosemarie Dudek, who have all been jailed for homeschooling, and I think you’ll find that these so-called liberal democracies are now wholly engulfed in what a certain Bavarian theologian has called the “dictatorship of relativism.”
The totalitarian state – whether outwardly democratic or not – knows the challenge of controlling adults’ minds, so it goes after the young: “He alone who owns the youth gains the future.” Faced with evil dictates from the government, adults have the maturity to hold fast, but children are impressionable by design. Their thoughts are easily molded, which, while a great boon to their development in the care of a wise and loving guide, is a disaster in the hands of dictators.
So parents like those in Nova Scotia are right to decry any unnecessary incursions into their proper area of authority. We need to ask: If parents are responsible to the government for what they teach their children, then what’s to stop the government from telling parents what to teach them?
We already saw warning signs last spring in Alberta, when a spokeswoman for the Minister of Education told LifeSiteNews in a phone interview that morally conservative homeschoolers would not be permitted to teach that homosexual acts are sinful. “Whatever the nature of schooling – homeschool, private school, Catholic school – we do not tolerate disrespect for differences,” she said.
After a massive public outcry, the government backed down. But the point is, no matter what you believe about homosexuality, if the government can tell one person what to teach their child, they can do it to you too.
This op-ed was originally published at LifeSiteNews.com. It is reprinted here with permission.