In our day, is there anything more consistently libertarian than removing your children from the public schools? It has to be up there with abstaining from trading in government currency.
The general public has been taught to think of libertarians as white males who shout “End the Fed!” and support legalizing marijuana. In actual fact, the most libertarian person in the community is probably Abigail, a homeschool mom with six kids. After all, the “End the Fed!” guy probably completed a FAFSA and attended a public university.
Abigail homeschools because she has a deep understanding of worldview. She is likely a conservative Christian who believes that the Bible is the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct. She also understands that kids are impressionable and that they will soak in the worldview of their school. While some exceptions are given, public schools force conformity to the values of the majority. The values embedded in the curriculum and the school policies might directly contradict the deeply held values of a minority family.
It’s radical to opt-out of the public school. Abigail’s belief in liberty is costly: she pays for the public school through various local taxes; she gives up or delays a career outside of the home; and she buys her own educational materials. Furthermore, in many communities, the public school serves as the hub of civic engagement. Does anyone homeschool in East Grand Rapids?
This is not to say that homeschool families are radical individualists. I have found the exact opposite to be true. Homeschool families often collaborate and form communities around deeply held values. These communities share much more in common than a football team, academic achievement, or a vague notion of personal fulfillment. It is possible to be both politically libertarian and personally communitarian at the same time. Indeed, principled pluralism may be the spirit of our age.
The libertarian story that focuses on the homeschool family is compelling. Who makes a greater sacrifice to live out their commitment to liberty than homeschool parents? It’s time to fight the stereotypes and build coalitions. The homeschool family evokes respect and dignity. The angry “End the Fed!” guy does not.