MSNBC: Homeschooling a Racist ‘Evangelical War’ to Undermine Integration Policies

An opinion author at MSNBC has condemned homeschooling as a racist tool of evangelical Christians seeking to undermine public schools and policies that promote integration.

“It should come as no surprise that evangelicals, fundamentalists and other religious conservatives have fought against public education since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education,” Anthea Butler wrote at MSNBC in a column published Thursday.

Butler, a professor of religious studies and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania, is also the author of White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America.

Like many Critical Race Theorists who claim racism is the root of just about most American endeavors that fail to fit in with the leftist agenda, Butler made the claim that “the prospect of integrated schools led to the creation of many ‘segregation academies,’ private schools designed to keep African American children and undesirable immigrant groups away from white children.”

Citing left-wing Slate as a reference, Butler continued, “But there was another, more insidious way to circumvent integration: homeschooling.”

Butler used her column to condemn Kirk Cameron’s new documentary film The Homeschool Awakening (trailer below) in which the actor and filmmaker urges American parents to take up a journey into homeschooling in order to regain control of their children’s education.

Butler accused America’s newest homeschooling parents, including many who signed onto permanent home education after the Biden administration caved to teachers’ unions to keep schools closed during the pandemic, of using Christian theology curriculum materials developed by fundamentalist Rousas Rushdoony, who she refers to as a founder of the modern homeschooling movement.

“Crazy or not, homeschooling materials inspired by Rushdoony’s theology are on sale today to parents who homeschool in America, and many of those materials reached parents during the pandemic,” she asserted. “Cameron’s documentary promoting homeschooling is not an aberration; it is part of a larger project about dismantling the public education system in the United States.”

Kerry McDonald, senior education fellow at Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), however, pointed out Monday Butler “neglects to mention that the rise of the modern homeschooling movement was broad and bipartisan, capturing both the political left and right who were equally dissatisfied with public schooling and other American institutions at the time.”

Butler also wrote the “dismantling” of the government education system has come about due to “segregation academies,” school choice policies, attempts to promote local control of education, and, of course, via former President Donald Trump.

But Butler neglects to mention that the failure of public schools to actually educate American children, particularly minority lower-income children, is likely the primary reason for their “dismantling,” although government schools appear to be a “bottomless pit” when it comes to asking for more taxpayer funds to support their left-wing education reforms.

There are numerous studies and reports showing the performance decline over the past several decades of American students educated in public schools.

In November Heritage Foundation education researchers discovered a statistically significant decline in the reading and math scores of 13-year-olds over the past eight years – a period of time when the Obama administration’s Common Core standards were implemented in most states.

“Despite record-high education spending, these declines are the latest evidence casting significant doubt on Common Core’s learning standards and approach to student improvement,” the researchers noted at the Daily Signal.

The math scores of higher-performing 13-year-olds during the period of 2012-2020 showed little to no decline, while lower performing students of the same age demonstrated significant drops in scores over the same period of time.

“Students scoring in lower testing percentiles experienced the most distressing declines,” the Heritage researchers reported. “The math score of the median student dropped by five points, the 25th percentile fell by eight points, and the 10th percentile fell by a shocking 12 points.”

They added the data showed “13-year-old students scoring in the 10th percentile dropped more than the equivalent of a full grade year in math capabilities below where they were in 2012.”

“Black students and students in the 25th percentile were close behind,” the researchers noted, reporting the test scores of black students plunged eight points, while those of Hispanic students dropped four points, an outcome that suggests an even wider gap in achievement, despite left-wing reformers claiming their programs would shrink the gap.

The Nation’s Report Card assessments have also showed the lowest performing students have made no progress in reading since the first administration of the test three decades ago.

The number of families homeschooling in the United States has remained significantly above pre-pandemic levels even though government schools have reopened.

Butler wrote of her concern the rise in homeschooling may be due to parents’ issues with Critical Race Theory and the prevalence of LGBTQ curriculum materials in government school classrooms, but, clearly, her biggest concern for homeschooled students is the possibility they may be exposed to Christianity:

Homeschooling may have greater appeal now because of these debates and the desire for parents to play a big part in their children’s educational life. It may also arise out of pandemic concerns, but parents unfamiliar with the existing networks of homeschooling run the danger of being drawn into Christian conservative networks and theocratic teaching.

In April, the Associated Press (APreported on data it said it “obtained and analyzed”:

The coronavirus pandemic ushered in what may be the most rapid rise in homeschooling the U.S. has ever seen. Two years later, even after schools reopened and vaccines became widely available, many parents have chosen to continue directing their children’s educations themselves.

The number of homeschooling students increased by 63 percent during the 2020-2021 school year in 18 states that shared data, AP reported. That percentage then dropped by only 17 percent in the next academic year.

The report added:

All of the 28 state education departments that provided homeschooling data to the AP reported that homeschooling spiked in 2020-21, when fears of infection kept many school buildings closed. Of the 18 states whose enrollment data included the current school year, all but one state said homeschooling declined from the previous year but remained well above pre-pandemic levels.

Census Bureau data released in March 2021 showed that 11.1 percent of K-12 students were being homeschooled. That percentage is a significant increase from the 5.4 percent who were educating at home at the start of the school shutdowns in March 2020, and the 3.3 percent in the years before the lockdowns.

The Census Bureau also observed homeschooling has increased across race groups and ethnicities:

In households where respondents identified as Black or African American … the proportion of homeschooling increased by five times, from 3.3% (April 23-May 5) to 16.1% in the fall (Sept. 30-Oct. 12). The size of the increases for the other Race/Hispanic origin groups were not statistically different from one another.

Nevertheless, Butler warned “the public needs to awaken to the reality that public schools may disappear if people with [Kirk Cameron’s] extreme beliefs have their way.”

McDonald, however, asserts, “homeschooling is here to stay” as an education choice that is, as the data show, “driven by a demographically, geographically, and ideologically diverse group of families who share a common goal of wanting to take a more active role in their children’s education.”

“Media companies and academics can claim that homeschooling is being chosen for nefarious reasons, but the facts simply don’t support it,” she added.

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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Homeschooling” by woodleywonderworks. CC BY 2.0.

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