If a new project launched by the Exodus Mandate succeeds, another million American children could be getting their schooling at home in another five to seven years.
"Homeschooling Family to Family" (www.homeschoolingfamilytofamily.org) aims to use experienced home educators to "evangelize" Christian parents to take their children out of the public schools and school them at home. The experienced families will mentor the new families into homeschooling, and Exodus Mandate will provide support on its website with text, links, streaming audio and video, and an e-newsletter (www.exodusmandate.org).
"Since it began some 25 years ago, homeschooling has been playing defense," said E. Ray Moore Jr., Exodus Mandate's founder. "We've been trying to establish its niche and haven't been aggressive in promoting it.
"But the tables have turned. This is our moment of opportunity to lead families to the promised land of Christian education."
A Tipping Point?
"In the early days of homeschooling," Moore said, "people always used to ask us two questions. 'The government lets you do that?' and 'But what about socialization?'
"Now the environment in the public schools has grown so toxic that it's our turn to ask Christian parents who've left their children in these schools, 'God lets you do that?' and 'What about socialization?'"
With 2 million children already homeschooling, another million could push the public school establishment to "a tipping point," Moore said.
"We estimate that about 15% of the kids are already out of the public schools," he said. "If we can get it up to 25 or 35%, the whole system will really start to unravel."
Why would anyone want to unravel the public school system?
"There are two cultural streams flowing in America at the same time," Moore said. "On one hand, we have a serious recovery effort. A lot of Christians have been sitting on the fence, and now they're waking up. The homeschooling movement is a big part of that.
"On the other, wickedness is spinning out of control. Nowhere is this worse than in the public schools."
The news is full of reports of crime, violence, sex, and drug abuse in the schools going hand in glove with deliberate efforts by "educators" to de-Christianize school children — especially via "sex education" programs aimed at persuading children to accept and even embrace homosexuality. (For the story of a Massachusetts man, David Parker, who was imprisoned for trying to prevent his 6-year-old son from being taught about homosexuality, see the Article 8 Alliance website, www.article8.org.) At the same time, college students seeking to become public school teachers are being asked to demonstrate their allegiance to far-left ideologies (http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/johnleo/2005/10/17/171490.html).
"We're in a war for the soul of the family, the church, and the nation — and we can win," Moore said. "We want to save the next generation of Christian children from the destructive influence of the public schools.
"But we don't want to spend a lot of time describing how bad the public schools are. We're trying to lay down a Biblical model for education. Christian schooling in the home is what God wants for us. If homeschooling is both Christian and theologically sound, it'll produce a better Christian citizen and a new kind of America."
Getting Past the Disbelief
Houston attorney Bruce Shortt, author of a book documenting The Harsh Truth About Public Schools, has led the way in designing the Family to Family project, and Jube Dankworth, another Texan, designed the project's website and has been named its first director.
Shortt, who recently persuaded the Southern Baptist Convention to adopt a resolution in support of homeschooling, spoke to the difficulty in getting parents and pastors to back homeschooling.
"Older people just don't understand the current state of the schools," he said. "After a generation of defining deviancy downward and accepting lower and lower standards, the schools today are as different from the schools of 40 or 50 years ago as a 747 is from a biplane."
One of the biggest objections to an "exodus" of Christian children from the public schools is that the children ought to be there to serve as "salt and light," evangelizing an aggressively anti-Christian environment.
It can't be done, Shortt said.
"All these problems can be found in upscale suburban school districts run by Christians, staffed by Christians, and filled with Christian students," he said. "The school boards, administrators, and teachers make very few of the decisions that determine the character of a school. The courts, the ACLU, unions, congress, legislators, and educrats are the ones who are really in charge. The values within the schools also reflect the popular culture of movies, music, and television. None of this has anything to do with the presence or absence of Christians in the system."
Instead of the Christian students and teachers evangelizing the schools, he added, the schools usually de-Christianize the students.
Moore estimated that the public schools still hold 10 to 12 million children from evangelical Christian homes, about 80% of the Christian school-age population. These children and their parents will be Family to Family's target audiences.
"We're going to encourage experienced homeschoolers to share their heart for homeschooling by offering to mentor families they already know," he said. "I think virtually every experienced homeschool family has serious conversations with friends, neighbors, and relatives who are intrigued by homeschooling but who are a little afraid to start.
"Homeschooling Family to Family asks experienced Christian homeschoolers to take the initiative by helping one of those families set aside their fears and start homeschooling. In many cases, HFTF mentoring would also be an excellent opportunity to share the gospel."
The project has already won the endorsement of several other large homeschooling organizations, including the Home School Legal Defense Association, the National Black Home Educators Resource Association, Considering Homeschooling Ministry, and Homeschool Headquarters.
"We're not competing with any of these other groups," Moore said. "We want to enhance the efforts of all the homeschooling groups."